Rice is among my favorite starches. I’d rank it well ahead of potatoes, except perhaps waxy new potatoes dug fresh from the garden. Until last weekend when I tried some Ifugao Diket Sticky Rice sourced from Eighth Wonder, Inc. (a purveyor of heirloom rice grown in the Philippines) I thought brown rice was pretty exotic and about as tasty as that grain gets. When given the choice between brown rice and pasta, I probably pick pasta about 65 percent of the time. With this beautifully pigmented and nutty-flavored Eighth Wonder Heirloom Rice added to the mix, the pasta vs. rice decision just got a lot tougher for me.
Last weekend after a day of hanging, taping and mudding sheetrock in my slow-but-sure mudroom repair project (hoping for no more frozen pipes) I felt like dinking around in the kitchen with a partner in culinary crime who tolerates my experiments incredibly graciously. And since I had this package of Ifugao Diket Sticky Rice from Eighth Wonder Heirloom Rice, and a freezer full of grass-fed lamb sourced from GRIT publisher Bryan Welch’s farm, I had a plan.
I followed the directions on the back of the Ifugao Diket Sticky Rice from Eighth Wonder Heirloom Rice package to the letter. The rice cooked up plump, maroon and sticky. I had to sample it as it was – it tasted nutty and had a nice tooth – not mushy at all. As the rice was resting, I heated up my favorite 12-inch, cast-iron skillet with a tablespoon of olive oil in it. When that was good and hot, I added about a pound of ground lamb along with a diced onion and sliced jalapeño – I stripped the seeds and then rubbed my eye and did some other things that made me remember why I like to just leave the jalapeño seeds alone. I browned the works. Actually I just browned the lamb and by then the veggies were just right.
With the flame turned down low, I added a couple of cups of cooked Ifugao Diket Sticky Rice from Eighth Wonder Heirloom Rice and tossed it around until the rice grains were more or less unstuck. A little sea salt and Northwoods Fire Seasoning (daughter Alaina gave it to me for Christmas) later, I had a delicious dish on my hands. Supper that night also included some awesome simmered carrots with a dill gravy on them and a heavenly, crunchy-crusted, no-knead rye bread – both compliments of my partner in culinary crime (she had a second helping of my lamb and Ifugao Diket Sticky Rice dish, which I take as a good sign).
Not one to let leftovers go to waste, I ate the rest of the Ifugao Diket Sticky Rice from Eighth Wonder Heirloom Rice for breakfast the next morning – it was delicious reheated with a pat of butter and drizzle of homemade cane syrup. I have a couple of other varieties of heirloom rice from Eighth Wonder yet to try. I can’t wait.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.