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Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice; the rice that made me care about rice

My husband and I recently traveled down to Charleston, South Carolina and I was so excited to sample as much Southern food as I could possibly handle. A highlight of our trip was a dinner at FIG where their Southern techniques and local ingredients really appealed to me. While perusing the menu, I noticed a pork dish that included Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice. This piqued my interest as we have carried this rice in the shop for years, but I had never actually tried it. The dish arrived and I was surprised to see that the rice was completely plain. When I tasted it however, the rest of the dish didn’t even matter – the rice completely blew me away.

Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice

Carolina Gold Rice

I couldn’t believe that rice could be so flavorful and creamy. I immediately asked the server how it was made and she responded “Oh that? Just water and a little butter! Good, right?”

Good? Just good? I finished the rice without a second thought to the delicious pork belly on my plate.

This rice just rocked my world.

Rice is rice is rice, right? Wrong, I now realized. After returning from Charleston, I couldn’t wait to buy some rice and try to cook it for myself. Perhaps it was the magic of the atmosphere or the skill of a chef that made me so enthusiastic about a grain that had always been an afterthought for me, but as I soon learned from the Anson Mills website, there is a lot more to these little golden grains.

In addition to a depth of information, their site also offers recipes so I immediately began to research the various techniques involved in cooking this rice. After reading and learning the history of this Southern heirloom rice, I was so hungry I ended up shelving all of this newfound knowledge and just cooking it the way that I always cook rice – simple and fast. With three parts water, 1 part rice and a little butter in the pot, I cooked it up and was instantly transported back to Charleston.

My version was a bit creamier than what I had at FIG, but it was just as good. The flavor was milky and rich with an undertone that tasted like lightly toasted nuts. Since then, I’ve cooked up this rice almost a half a dozen times – each as good as the last.

Here is both the “official” Anson Mills recipe, or, if you are in a hurry, my recipe. Either way, be prepared to welcome a new love into your life.

Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice (serves 4)

  • 6 cups spring or filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon plus some for sprinkling fine sea salt
  • 7 ounces (1 cup) Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a heavy-bottomed 3½-quart saucepan, bring the water and 1 tablespoon of salt to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, stir once, and as soon as the water returns to a boil, reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is just tender with no hard starch at its center, about 15 minutes. Drain the rice in a fine-holed footed colander and rinse well with cool water. Shake the colander to drain off excess water.

Distribute the rice evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven and allow the rice to dry for about 5 minutes, gently turning the grains from time to time with a spatula. Dot with the butter and sprinkle with the pepper and salt to taste. Return the baking sheet to the oven and allow the rice to warm through, occasionally turning the grains, until the butter has melted and the rice is hot, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately.

Julia’s Recipe (serves 2)

Bring the rice, water, butter and salt to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook until rice has absorbed most of the water but still appears quite creamy (approximately 15-20 minutes). Keeping lid on, remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

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