As you may already know, there is no Thanksgiving holiday in Greece. We just jump right into Christmas. And that’s when we have our turkey. She is not in a “Thankful spirit” but in a Christmas one. This Christmas Rice Recipe that I’m sharing with you here, is inspired by our traditional “turkey stuffing rice‘. Which actually contains a bunch of other ingredients as well. This one is a lighter version still packed with all the warm, winter-holiday flavors. So we either cook this rice inside the turkey or as it usually happens, out of the turkey in a cooking pot for more convenience.
So this Christmas Rice Recipe is served as a side dish to our Christmas turkey. Or in your case to your Christmas roast. Whether it’s a poultry or ham roast, this rice will match perfectly, since it contains the sweet flavors of wine and the small pieces of pancetta. It takes about 20 minutes to make and will make your holiday dinner table smell even cozier and more welcoming. Its flavor is fit for a king. Cooked with Mavrodafni wine, pine nuts, pancetta, sun-dried prunes, and mushrooms to literally bring Christmas in your mouth!
About The Ingredients
You are probably wondering now, what Mavrodafni Wine is? Well, traditionally it’s the wine that Greek priests use in a church. When its the Holly communion, the priest will bless the wine and then people will form a line. Then each person will be fed a small teaspoon of the wine, into their mouth by the priest. Then they will be given a small piece of bread. The wine is to represent the blood of Christ and the bread his body.
The Mavrodafni wine has a dark red color and it has a strong sweet taste with aromas of caramel, coffee, raisins, and plums. You can substitute this wine and use any type of sweet red wine instead. The reason I always go for this wine on Christmas and winter holidays is, that it gives a special something, making the food taste and smell more warm and sweeter.
As for the Pancetta, you can always use smoked one for a stronger flavor but I always prefer to go lighter. Therefore I used just raw one cut into very small pieces.
And because our food needs to look nice and be dressed formally as we do on a holiday, I molded this rice using simply a mixing bowl! Do not worry about doing it wrong as it is pretty sticky and you won’t have any difficulty with that. Just make sure that the rice won’t be steamy hot when you add it to the mold. The cooler the rice the easier it is to do it. I used a 1-quart stainless steel mixing bowl. It’s just the right size. But you can go ahead and be creative, using a cake tin as a mold, a ring mold and whatever comes to your mind and can find in your kitchen.
To conclude, when it comes to Christmas cooking I like to see a table full of different dishes. Like potatoes, this Christmas rice recipe, different roasted vegetables, a pie and at least two different types of gravy. Food plays an important role in every holiday and dishes like this Christmas rice help to bring up the right spirit.
Christmas Rice Recipe With Pancetta, Prunes, And Pine Nuts
- 45 grams butter
- 50 grams onion minced
- 170 grams boneless pancetta cut into ½ cm pieces
- 100 grams mushrooms chopped
- 250 grams long grain rice
- 100 ml mavrodafni wine or other sweet red wine
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 55 grams sun-dried prunes chopped
- 3 teaspoons pine nuts
- 50 ml heavy cream
- Heat butter in a medium-sized saucepan over high heat.
- Caramelize the onion. Add the pancetta and cook for 2-3 minutes untill it gets a nice golden color.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add the mushrooms and rice. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Pour the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Pour 1 liter of warm water. Season with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf.
- Cover with the lid and simmer for about 20 minutes.
- Add the prunes and pine nuts. Bring heat to high and stir constantly untill rice absorbs all of the remaing water.
- Once the rice starts to stick at the bottom of the pan remove from heat and set aside.
- Optional Step: At this point, you may add the cream.
- Let rice stand for about 10 minutes to release its steam.
- Transfer rice to your preferred mold, and push gently with a big spoon. Let rice stand in the mold for 2-3 minutes. Unmold on a large plate.
- Serve with extra prunes and pine nuts on top.
Quality Ingredients to use in this recipe:
- Signature's Dried Plums Pitted Prunes
- Farm Fresh Nuts Whole Pine Nuts Pignolias Raw Natural
- Medley Hills Farm Gourmet Turkish Bay Leaves Whole