Almond Rice Pilaf

by Todd Wilbur

    Here's a dish served on the side with some of Applebee's entrees (including the honey grilled salmon we cloned last week) that you can recreate easily at home. The secret to an authentic rice pilaf is in sautéing the uncooked rice kernels in butter first, before adding liquid -- in this case chicken stock. While the rice cooks, you have plenty of time to chop up some celery and onions, and brown the almonds.  

2 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 cup uncooked converted rice
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
1/8 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1/4 cup diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley 

1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan. Be sure to use a saucepan with a lid. Add 1 cup uncooked converted rice and sauté rice for 3 to 5 minutes in the butter or until some of the rice begins to turn light brown. As the rice is cooking heat chicken stock on high in microwave for 3 to 5 minutes or until the stock begins to bubble. When the rice begins to brown, quickly add the hot stock and salt to the pan. Cover the pan, reduce heat to low and simmer rice for 20 minutes. 
2. As rice cooks melt remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and sauté until the almonds are golden brown.
3. When the rice has cooked for 20 minutes, remove it from the heat. Add almonds, celery, and onion to the rice, then let it sit, covered, for 5 minutes or until the remaining liquid is absorbed. (