Cooking with Pillows
Plov [plohf] is a cult dish not only in its homeland Uzbekistan, but all over the former Soviet Republics and Russia. A hearty one-pot rice dish cooked in lamb fat with onions and carrots, it has many variations. Russian men often cook plov for parties with the same me-put-food-on-this-table showmanship displayed by American men around their grills.
For 4 as a main course
2 cups long grain parboiled rice
5 large carrots
2 large onions
400 gr cubed leg of lamb
100 gr lamb fat
Vegetable or lamb broth
1 tsp peppercorns
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp cumin seeds
1/2 cup barberries
Decapitate one garlic head per guest.
Many cooks will use water or dehydrated broth or even stock cubes for a plov, but a homemade broth will greatly improve the taste. Use your favorite recipe or chop a leek, an onion, a potato, a couple garlic cloves, cover with water and simmer for about 45 minutes. You can salt the broth, but remember not to salt your plov.
Peel and cut two large onions in half, then thinly slice crosswise. Peel and coarsely grate 6 large carrots.
Soak the barberries in a little water. Grind the spices in a mortar or electric spice grinder to a fine powder.
Prepare your workspace with the broth or hot water behind, a large “kazan” (round-bottomed cast metal Uzbek pot) or Dutch oven in front and the ingredients on the side. Set two plates aside to reserve the meat and lamb fat.
Melt the fat in the Dutch oven over high temperature and use a potato purée tool to get as much liquid fat out as you can. Remove the remaining patches of fat and discard.
Quickly fry the lamb cubes on all sides until nicely browned.
Heat the lamb fat remaining in the Dutch oven and pour in the sliced onions, turning frequently until soft and light brown, about 6-8 minutes. Add the ground spices and mix well for 1 more minute. Add the grated carrots and cook for 3 more minutes or until carrots are soft.
Add the reserved meat and any meat juices that escaped. Mix well and reduce heat to medium hot. Add 2 cups rice. Add 4 cups hot broth. You can use water but please hot, not cold, as this would stop the cooking for a good 10 minutes.
Add the drained barberries and heads of garlic, cover and simmer over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes.
NOW COMES THE FUN PART!
Take to the bedroom, uncover the bed, place the tightly covered pot in the middle, voter with 4-5 pillows and the bed covers. Wait 30 minutes then take the dish to the table and serve piping hot with a garlic head for each guest.