Cretan Pilafi – Greek Lemon Rice is not just an ordinary rice dish! It is a creamy rice dish flavored with, lemon, butter and chicken broth. A popular wedding dish, Cretan Pilafi, also known as Gamopilafo (wedding pilaf), is typically made with one or a combination of lamb, beef or chicken broth. While it is traditionally served on special occasions, our version is most certainly easy enough to make for any occasion.
This version of Cretan Pilafi – Greek Lemon Rice was taught to me by my mother, Eleni and to her by my great aunt, Thea Ekaterini, who was herself from Crete. It is a faster and simpler method that allows you to enjoy a classic Cretan dish without a lot of fuss. The key to success with this dish is adding warm chicken broth one ladle full at a time to the rice and to constantly stir the rice as it is cooking and absorbing the chicken broth. This will result in a Cretan pilafi with a creamy texture enhanced with flavors of lemon and butter.
It is a favorite side dish in our home and I’m proud to say that it has now been passed down to yet another generation, my daughter Stephanie. We are confident you will love our Cretan Pilafi!
HOW TO MAKE CRETAN PILAFI – GREEK LEMON RICE
- You will need two pots for this recipe. A small sauce pan to warm up the chicken broth and prepare it for adding to the rice and a second larger pot to cook the rice in. Add the chicken broth to the small sauce pan over medium heat. Melt the butter in the larger pot, making sure it doesn’t burn.
- Add the rice to the larger pot with the butter, and lightly brown the rice. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon to make sure the rice doesn’t burn. Once the rice is well coated in the butter, add the lemon juice, and continue to stir.
- At this point, the chicken broth should be warm. Begin to add a ladle full of chicken broth to the rice, butter, lemon mixture. It’s critical to continue to stir the rice as you add the broth and the rice is cooking. As the rice cooks and absorbs the chicken broth, add another ladle full of chicken broth. Continue to stir the rice and repeat until all the chicken broth has been used.
- Once the rice has cooked and absorbed almost all of the chicken broth, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
WHAT KIND OF RICE DO YOU RECOMMEND?
We have used different types of rice to make Cretan Pilafi, and the best rice in our opinion is Uncle Ben’s Original Long Grain White Rice. The texture comes out perfect.
WHY DO I HAVE TO STIR SO MUCH?
Constantly stirring the rice will keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pot, but more importantly it will add creaminess to the Pilafi which is created when the grains of rice rub against each other.
DOES THE CHICKEN BROTH HAVE TO BE HEATED?
Adding heated broth to the Pilafi as it is cooking helps ensure a more consistent temperature and ensures that the rice cooks more evenly.
Cretan Pilafi – Greek Lemon Rice
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Cretan Pilafi - Greek Lemon Rice
- 1 1/2 cups white rice
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter
- 6 tbsp lemon juice
- 4 cups chicken broth 2 14.5 oz cans plus 1.5 oz water
- Add the butter to a medium pot, and melt it on medium heat.
- At the same time, heat the chicken broth in a smaller pot on medium heat.
- Add in the rice, and coat it in the butter. Lightly brown the rice, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon to make sure it doesn't burn.
- Once the rice is well coated in the butter, add the lemon juice. Continue to stir.
- Using a ladle, add the chicken broth a ladle at a time to the rice. Stir constantly. Add more broth once the rice has absorbed the broth that's been added.
- Once the rice has absorbed all of the broth, take it off the heat. Let it cool for 10 minutes.