When the Side Dish Takes Center Stage in Brittany

House in Brittany Sea View 1 1824x1368My husband and I have left Paris with our son and his family to spend a few days on the northern coast of Brittany. We’ve rented a house with an incredible view of the Atlantic, marveling each time we gaze at the ocean through its picture windows. Although the sun has been out almost every day, brisk winds have kept us from spending time on the pristine beaches.

Boucherie (the butcher's)

Boucherie (the butcher’s)

So, we’ve turned to cooking instead, taking advantage of the many marchés and food stores in the area. Huge artichokes (a specialty of Brittany), plump cherries, juicy peaches, and sweet melons are temptingly displayed, and, of course, there’s plenty of seafood—oysters, mussels, crab, lobsters, cod, and monkfish, caught fresh and sold the same day. We’re enjoying Bordier butter (one of France’s most celebrated butters and another specialty of the region) as well as local cider.

Poissonerie 1 1153x1040

Bordier Smoked Salt Butter

Bordier Smoked Salt Butter

We’ve bought chicken, sausages, and beef for grilling, and fresh white fish fillets for sautéing. And for sides we’ve made simple salads and a special curried rice scented with crème fraîche and summer herbs. In fact, this golden-hued rice has been so versatile that we’ve paired it with our entrees for the past three days.

This dish takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish to prepare and will stay warm for 45 minutes in a covered saucepan. (I even like it at room temperature.) Don’t be surprised if this delicious side upstages your main course.

Curry Rice

Curry Rice with Crème Fraîche and Fresh Herbs
4 tbsp olive oil plus more if needed
1 1/4 cups chopped shallots or onion
2 cups basmati rice
3 tsp curry powder plus more if needed
3/4 tsp turmeric
Kosher salt
Two generous pinches cayenne pepper
5 cups reduced sodium chicken stock plus more if needed
1 tbsp lemon juice plus more if needed
2/3 cup crème fraîche
2 tsp chopped herbs such as chives, flat leaf parsley, and mint (any combination

1. Heat 4 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy saucepan (with a lid) over medium heat. When hot, add the shallots or onions and stir until they are softened and transparent, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice, curry powder, turmeric, 1/2 tsp kosher salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir until rice is coated with oil, about 1 minute, adding more oil if needed. Add the stock and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer.

2. Reduce heat, cover the pan, and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender 12 to 15 minutes or longer. (If the liquid is evaporating too quickly, stir in up to 1/2 cup extra stock.)

3. When rice is done, stir in the lemon juice and then the crème fraîche. Season the rice if desired with more curry powder, salt, cayenne pepper, and an extra squeeze or two of lemon. Rice can be used immediately or kept covered off the heat for up to 45 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs and serve. Serves 6.   Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2014


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4 thoughts on “When the Side Dish Takes Center Stage in Brittany

    • It’s absolutely gorgeous here –we’re right on the Emerald Coast and the color of the water is exquisite!!

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