Nikos' Cretan Pilafo

2019 September. We were in Crete for a sort of part mountains and part snorkelling holiday- and at the end we went to Dafnes and stayed in Giannis' mother's house. Of course there was a feast - knowing Giannis what else could there be! - and his friend Nikos from the village brought in this huge platter - a 'dekshi' (or large cooking pan) really of this pilafi which was meant as a surprise for me. And it certainly was. And wonderful because I had pretty much been without rice for nearly ten days! So I had loads of it then, and loads for breakfast too.I am guessing the recipe - but here's a wonderful one  found on the internet - made from scratch - including how to use the 'hen'!!

To make chicken broth:

4 1/2 pounds of stewing hen, cut in pieces

6 cups of water

1 whole lemon, well washed

To make the pilaf:

4 1/2 cups of strained chicken broth (above)

8 1/2 cups of hot water

4 1/2 cups of long-grain rice

1 1/4 tablespoons of butter

6 tablespoons of lemon juice

freshly ground black pepper

Make the broth: In a pressure cooker, add the hen, the whole lemon, and 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover, and seal. Bring to pressure, reduce heat, and cook for 15 minutes until the chicken is very tender. Allow pressure to release naturally.


To make the broth without a pressure cooker.

Remove hen from the pot and set aside in a covered dish. When the broth in the pot cools sufficiently, strain into a bowl..

Make the pilaf: Measure out 4 1/2 cups of the broth and pour into a large pot. Add 8 cups of hot (tap) water, and bring to a boil over medium heat. When it starts to boil, add the rice and stir frequently to keep from sticking. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the lemon juice, and cover.

In a small skillet, heat the butter over high heat until it sizzles. Lift the cover of the pot and quickly pour in the hot butter and close the cover quickly (it will spatter). When the sizzling stops (a few seconds), remove the cover, stir briefly, and recover.

Allow to sit 5-10 minutes before serving. The pilaf is supposed to be smooth and creamy, and slightly mushy. Serve with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper. Serve the hen separately on a platter.