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Wild Rice is a marsh grass seed, like regular rice. It traditonally goes with game meat, wild bird meats. Well, it goes with turkey too.
People tend to cook it with various additions (mushrooms, cranberries, apples, nuts, white rice, etc) but it's a treat on its own if you have enough of it. Chicken broth and salt and pepper does this wild grain justice.
I totally agree about serving wild rice by itself and love it.
HOWEVER, I can tell you from the reactions of others that there's a certain reluctance to dig in by most people when it's served. I suspect that's due to wild rice's plate appeal, which at first glance resembles a heap of cooked insects.
I love wild rice, but it takes forever to cook. I usually get it started on the stove and tightly covered in the oven. This year I have a pressure cooker. Rice comes out perfect but I really want to try wild rice.
I bought a few pounds of wild rice when I was driving through Minnesota a few years bac. To me it is a little too much by itself. I blend it with white rice but you must cook it separately. I use it in stuffing, not too much though. Good with lentils but still a little too much of the wild rich flavor. good with chopped mushrooms and onions.
Most people have never eaten real, hand-harvested wild rice from the lakes and streams of the upper Midwest. The black stuff you see in grocery stores and in mixes is a cultivated variety, grown in rice paddies. Paddy rice cooks in hours. The real stuff cooks in 30 minutes.
Real wild rice is harvested by two people in a canoe, one poling the canoe through the rice bed, and the other kneeling in front holding two sticks. One stick is used to reach out and bend the rice heads over the canoe. The other sweeps across the heads. With this technique, only the ripe rice falls into the boat. The unripe stays on the head, for harvesting later.
Real wild rice is green, the color of money. It is allowed to dry a bit, then it is parched in a big long device made from an old steam locomotive's boiler. Inside are paddles to agitate the rice so it dries evenly. An old locomotive boiler is about the only thing that can take the repeated heating, cooling and vibration.
After the parching, which is done over a wood fire, the rice cools a bit, then is run through a thresher which removes the hull. Finally it is passed through a sorter that separates broken grains from whole. There's no taste or cooking difference, but the broken grains cost about 1/3 as much. Some call this soup rice. It's what I always buy.
It is possible to process wild rice by hand, using an iron kettle laying on top of a fire, with someone stirring the rice with a paddle. Then, it is tipped out on a blanket, and a child walks over it to loosen the hulls. Finally someone puts the rice in a birch bark basket, and tosses it in the air, letting the breeze carry away the hulls. This rice is better, but you will never be able to buy any, as those who do it this way only do it for family.
If folks are interested, I can post links to a family I know that works in Ponsford, MN, where the best rice grows. I could also email Bird Dog a video or two of the parching. If you search "harvest wild rice" on youTube, you will find videos of folks in the canoes.
Thank you for sharing your very interesting knowledge about wild rice. I love to eat wild rice. A dear friend spent several weeks in Minnesota this summer and surprised me with a gift of wild rice harvested there. I am trying a recipe for a salad from Rancho Gordo heirloom beans that includes the wild rice as well as eye of the goat beans, sugar pie pumpkin and fuyu persimmons. It should complement the spatchcocked, dry brined turkey one of my meat-eating sons is preparing. And it may demote vegetarian son's tofurky into a side dish.
Again, thank you for the wild rice experiences.
I was lucky enough to learn how to process wild rice from Dave Annette in the last two years of his life. I don't know what he knew--how could anyone learn a lifetime's experience in two years?--but I did learn the basics. His plant was in Ponsford.
The company you want is Lake Region Wild Rice. I got to visit their plant when son Aaron was running it. It's much bigger than what I learned on, but I could do it with their equipment if I had to. Their parcher is a real heirloom; it's about 140 years old.
Lake Region Wild Rice
Remember, there's no difference in quality between regular and soup rice. The regular is just prettier. Bird Dog is right, just cook it in good broth with a bit of salt. And make a bit more than you think you will need for dinner, as it goes very well in an omelette.
I was given some Wisconsin wild rice some years back and used it to stuff Cornish Hens. Mixed the rice with chopped pecans, chopped very fresh bay scallops sautéed in an herb butter. One of my best recipes ever.