When attending a family gathering with my dad's side of the family, it's almost a guarantee that this hot dish will be on the menu. My "Auntie T" is famous for this Wild Rice Hot Dish. Since we weren't able to get together for the holidays this year, I was seriously craving this hot dish!
Wild Rice Basics
Wild rice actually grows on stalks in shallow lakes and is harvested by canoe. It's collected by pulling the stalks over the canoe and using a wooden paddle to gently knock the wild rice off the stalk into the bottom of the canoe. It's harvested in the summer months in Minnesota, and is a traditional grain harvested by Native American tribes. Growing up in northern Minnesota, I've had the opportunity to purchase locally harvested wild rice. Different brands and varieties of wild rice can be found in the grain/pasta aisle of the grocery store and will work just as fine. Harvesting wild rice is truly a labor of love.
One important tip when making wild rice is rinsing it before cooking. While much of the debris is removed in the collecting and drying steps, some might still remain. Rinsing also prevents the rice from becoming gummy when cooked. Place wild rice in a bowl and cover with cold water. Using your fingers, stir the rice around and allow to sit for a minute. Remove anything that comes floating to the top of the water. Drain water. This step may need to be repeated more than once depending on the rice you are using.
Wild rice also requires a longer cooking time than a typical white or brown rice. For most recipes, the wild rice could be cooked ahead of time and be stored in the refrigerator for a day to two until ready to use. Wild rice naturally has a more chewy texture than other rice and I just love the nutty flavor.
To cook the wild rice, place 6 cups water and 1 tsp. salt in a large saucepan. Add rinsed wild rice and bring to a boil over medium-heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer 45 minutes. The wild rice should just start to "pop", or open up and get puffier. If there is extra liquid left, drain well. The rice will continue to cook in the oven so don't be alarmed if it still has a little crunch to it.
Making the Wild Rice Hot Dish
While the wild rice is cooking, add the pork sausage to a skillet. Break into bite size pieces and cook until no longer pink. Drain any excess grease and add to a large mixing bowl. In the same skillet, add 1 tbsp. olive oil and sauté celery & onions until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Mix with cooked sausage.
To the bowl mix in cooked rice, cream of chicken soup and chicken broth. Season with salt, pepper and soy sauce. Mix until well combined. Pour into 9x13 dish. Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes remove foil, stir and cook another 15-20 minutes. At this point all the liquid should be soaked up and the rice should be puffier. Serve this Wild Rice Hot Dish alongside steamed vegetables and it's ready to enjoy! My family has also enjoyed this as a side dish, almost as a stuffing substitute, the choice is yours!
I'm always grateful for recipes like this Wild Rice Hot Dish that are able to remind me of time together with my family. Whether you remember who you've made it with in the past or the conversations had around the dinner table, I find it amazing that something as basic as food can convey such emotion.
I hope you have recipes that do the same for you. If not, there is no moment like the present! Why can't a certain tradition or celebratory dish start with you? Remember, it doesn't have to be expensive or difficult. The most important ingredient is love.
Other easy weeknight meal ideas:
Wild Rice Hot Dish
- 1 ½ cups raw wild rice
- 6 cups water
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 # pork sausage regular
- 1 cup celery chopped
- 1 cup onion chopped
- 1 10.5 oz. can cream of chicken soup
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce
- ½ tsp. black pepper
Preparing the Wild Rice
- Place raw wild rice in a bowl and cover with cold water. Using your fingers, mix it up and remove anything floating on top of the water. This may need to be done twice. Drain.
- Place 6 cups of water and 1 tsp. salt into a large saucepan. Add wild rice and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cover. Allow rice to simmer for 45 minutes. Drain any excess liquid.
- While the wild rice is cooking, brown and cook pork sausage until no longer pink. Drain any grease and place in a large mixing bowl.
- In the same skillet, add 1 tbsp. olive oil and saute celery & onion until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add to bowl with sausage.
- Stir in cooked rice, cream of chicken soup and chicken broth.
- Add salt, pepper and soy sauce. Mix well and pour into 9x13 pan. Cover and bake at 325 degrees for 45 minutes.
- Remove foil and cook another 15-20 minutes until liquid is soaked up.
- You could also add sliced mushrooms, green pepper, water chestnuts or slivered almonds.
- Serve with a steamed vegetable for a hearty dinner.
- Could also serve as a substitute to a traditional bread based dressing side dish!