Wild about our rice

In our neck of the prairie, we are about as far removed from the areas where wild rice is harvested as we can be and still live in Minnesota.

But wild rice is a Minnesota thing, and we are Minnesotans. We eagerly consume big bowls of wild rice soup and present bags of our signature grain to out-of-state visitors.

So, of course, I took note when an email from the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council appeared in my inbox, announcing the winners in its annual “Get Wild with Wild Rice” recipe contest.

The contest had entries from all corners of our country —including Alaska and Hawaii. But who should come out on top? A Minnesotan, of course.

In what the council describes as “one of the closest races in the history” of the contest, Katie Schlick of St. Cloud was named the grand prize winner for her Zesty Wild Rice Skillet. A second recipe, Spirited Wild Rice Sliders by Lisa Keys of Kennett Square, Pa., was deemed the People’s Choice Winner.

For the contest, the Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council teamed up with Gold’n Plump, Famous Dave’s, Green Giant and Sargento, so the recipes specify products with those brands.

Zesty Wild Rice Skillet

In a small bowl, coat one 14-ounce package Gold’n Plump Extra Tender Chicken Stir Fry Pieces with 1/3 cup Famous Dave’s chicken marinade.

In a large skillet, sauté chicken in 1 teaspoon canola oil. Stir in 4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled; ½ of a red pepper, julienned; 1 small onion, julienned; 2 cups cooked wild rice; one 11.5-ounce package Green Giant Seasoned Steamers Tuscan Seasoned Broccoli, prepared as directed on package; 2 tablespoons Famous Dave’s Sweet & Zesty Barbecue Sauce and ¼ cup Sargento Artisan Blends Shredded Parmesan Cheese. Heat through.

Makes 6 servings.

Spirited Wild Rice Sliders

In large bowl, mix 1 cup cooked wild rice; 6 ounces ground beef; 6 ounces ground pork, one link Gold’n Plump Parmesan Italian chicken sausage, casing removed; ¼ cup finely diced dried apricots, ¼ cup finely diced onion; 1 teaspoon kosher salt; and ½ teaspoon smoked paprika.

Form mixture into 12 small patties. Grill over medium heat; baste patties with ¼ cup Famous Dave’s Apricot Bourbon barbecue sauce. Top with 1 cup Sargento Chef Blends shredded 6 Cheese Italian.

Serve sliders on 12 toasted slider buns with another ¼ cup of the barbecue sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

All the 2013 recipe finalists are featured on the council’s recipe library under the “Contest Finalist” category at www.mnwildrice.org. To receive a free copy of the council’s latest recipe brochures, “Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Recipes and Answers to Often Asked Questions,” which also features contest-winning recipes and other wild rice favorites, send a self-addressed-stamped envelope to: Minnesota Cultivated Wild Rice Council, Newest Recipes, 4630 Churchill St., No. 1, St. Paul 55126.

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