Easy weeknight recipes and sides: Pilaf (Armenian butter rice)

This is much less a recipe to me, and more of a staple that has been by my side my whole life. For celebrations- pilaf, for funerals- pilaf, for weeknight meals and leftovers, pilaf- always pilaf.

If I had to compare it, maybe it would be to me what a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich is to an American kid. It is the ultimate comfort food and always available and ready to be made. It is loved by even the pickiest eater in the house and because of it, my mom made it at least once a week for dinner. Her go-to dinner was always chicken and pilaf. Even writing those words, I hear her voice saying them again- “I think I’ll just make chicken and pilaf for dinner.” It was easy and a crowd-pleaser in the house. In less than 30 minutes, she would have pilaf, breaded chicken, and a vegetable on the table for us.

Pilaf has been the clutch in our lives through the thick and thin, the ultimate comfort food that makes the house smell like home again and fills you up pretty good. I suppose if we had the Sunday lunch dinners that Italian families traditionally have, we would replace the pasta with Pilaf. That’s all my brothers and I crave when we come back home and we can recognize it’s buttery scent right when we walk in the door.

Armenian Pilaf

Serves 6-8

  • ¼ cup butter or margarine
  • 2 cups fine egg noodles
  • 2 cups medium grain rice (we use Mahatama)
  • 5 cups water or chicken broth
  • 4-5 cubes chicken bouillon (only if using water)*
1. In a medium saucepan with lid, melt the butter or margarine. Add the noodles halfway through the butter melting and toss them with a fork so the butter coats all the noodles. It seems like a lot of butter I know, but this is comfort food. 

2. Brown the noodles for 5 minutes or so. Get them to a nice golden brown. As soon as they turn a nice golden brown, add the rice, toss for a minute, and then add the water or chicken broth.

3. Bring it to a boil. If using water, add the chicken cubes and stir to dissolve. Then, lower to a simmer and place the lid on top. Simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on, then turn it off. Let the rice sit 10 minutes before serving.

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