Aunt Patty’s Greek Rice

When I was 19 and married into the Greek family, every Saturday night we’d go over to my husband’s grandparents’ home.

The whole family was there – and it so was so much fun! And the meal was generally the same – chicken and greek rice or lamb and greek rice, plus salad.

What was even more fun is that, while the grandparents were quite old at the time, they still had their homemade “Ouzo” (Greece’s national drink) that Papoo made in his garage.

I remember the first time I ever tasted it. Not being of Greek descent, and definitely not used to tasting alcohol, I’m sure you can imagine what this tasted like for me.

The alcohol content in this Ouzo – (an anise flavored wine or aperitif), made from the by products of the grapes after they’ve been used for wine, is somewhere near 96% or 90 proof. I think Papoo’s was even higher!

So much for Saturday night. If you drank even more than one tiny bit of this licorice flavored drink – the results were more than I can talk about on this blog! Suffice to say, there was a lot of laughing going on!

Anyway, when we had our own kids, my husband’s great grandparents were alive until Erin, our first born was about 2, and jjust until our son was born.

So, since our grandparents had grandparents and great parents, we decided to call their great grandparents – Big Yia Yia and Big Papoo.

No disrespect intended of course – just to distinguish between them for the kids.

Anyway, Big Yia Yia made greek rice, but always made it with a different chicken broth than we were used to from my mother-in-law. (Secret – we loved the greek rice my mother in law made, but when a different brand of chicken broth was used it did not have the quite the same tang!)

So, choose your chicken broth carefully – the brand matters, and of course, you can always use homemade.

Any time you want a treat when you’re making rice, this is it.

It is also the cure all for when you’re sick, just like Jewish Chicken Soup!

Ingredients for two people – you need to multiply everything for more people.

The brand names here are important – the taste will vary widely if you don’t use these precise brands.

1 cup Uncle Ben’s original rice (the only other rice I like this with is orzo or alborio that you make risotto with, but with alborio, you need to cook this a lot longer).

2 cans Campbells chicken broth

2 cubes of real salted butter (some people in my family use unsalted but I guarantee it is not the original recipe my mother in law gave me and it does not taste the same)

salt to taste – just a bit

lemon juice — try the juice of 2 fresh lemons to start but then add more to taste ( I always use more to make the rice more lemony)

(One thing I found at Whole Foods is Santa Cruz organic lemon juice in a jar – that’s all there is inside – just pure organic lemon juice so you don’t need to have the fresh lemons if you can’t find any that are ripe).

Cooking instructions:

Melt the butter in a saucepan.

Add the rice and coat it.

Add the two cans of broth.

Add the lemon juice – after this rice cooks a bit – taste the broth and add more lemon juice to taste. The goal is lemony rice

Add a pinch of salt.

Bring the rice to a boil and turn it down to about medium. Do not cover the rice. Just cook it for about 20 minutes and stir occasionally until it’s ready. Definitely watch the rice to make sure it does not overcook.

You can taste as you go – that’s the fun part! Make sure the broth is lemony!

Serve in your favorite dish and if you want to decorate with parsely or cut lemons it looks really pretty!

Enjoy and you can ignore the butter content. Calories don’t matter in Greek Rice. :):)

More recipes from Aunt Patty here.