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.