Pilaf with Saffron

Rachael makes pilaf, two ways!


  • 4-5 cups chicken stock or poaching liquid, if poaching your own chicken
  • A fat pinch of saffron threads
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 pound thin linguine, broken into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins or currants
  • 4 cups pulled cooked chicken (use store-bought rotisserie or poach your own*)
  • 1 cup fresh shelled peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds or pine nuts, toasted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest or orange zest
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

* For the chicken:

  • 1 4-pound chicken
  • 2 carrots, coarsely chopped
  • 1 leek, halved and quartered across
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 2 celery ribs with leafy tops, quartered across
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 large fresh bay leaves
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 1 lemon, sliced


*If poaching your own chicken: Place the chicken in a pot with the poaching ingredients. Add enough water to just cover the chicken. Place over medium-high heat and bring to low rolling boil. Season the water with salt, then reduce the heat and poach for 45-60 minutes, turning once. Cool in the poaching liquid to room temperature. Remove the chicken from the skin and bones and dice or pull into bite-size pieces. Strain the poaching liquid.

Heat the stock in a medium size pot with saffron threads – do not boil, just heat the stock enough to steep in the flavor of the saffron.

Heat a large, deep skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add the butter and melt. When it foams, add the pasta and stir to toast until deep golden. Remove to plate and add the olive oil, onion and garlic to the skillet and stir for 3-5 minutes to soften. Add the rice and stir for 1 minute; add salt, pepper, thyme and raisins. Add the saffron-infused stock and pasta and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes, then add the chicken and peas and stir. Cover and cook for 3 minutes longer, then turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the nuts, citrus zest and parsley, then fluff with fork and serve.

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