I never got to eat much Rice a Roni as a kid. I think that’s because it came in such small boxes and with 5 kids and 2 adults, my family would have needed many boxes to fill us up. So when I was visiting friends’ houses and got to eat Rice a Roni, it was a treat! I’ve only tried the version with ground beef and that is what I wanted to try to replicate. This recipe came close, with a few modifications. Or as close as I can remember.
I’m not criticizing the original recipe, I just don’t remember mushrooms in the boxed version and I’m pretty sure no one’s mom made it with sherry. They’d be great to try sometime; I can imagine the upgrade in flavor with both of those included in the dish! So I omitted them from the recipe I was following.
I had made this recipe several months ago and didn’t write down my tweaks. The photos I had taken lay in a folder I opened once in awhile and sighed. I simply had to start over and this time pay attention to taking notes for blogging. I loved the dish, it would be no stress to relive it again!
I started by browning the beef. I smoosh it down flat and let it turn a good caramelized brown color. I break it into bits with my handy dandy meat tool that I use so often I can’t imagine why I haven’t had one all these years. I’ve used it a great deal in the 6 months that I’ve owned one! Beef browned and set aside, I turned to the rice and roni part of the recipe.
I had fun snapping the spaghetti into little bits. I guess I’d never thought about it much, how the “roni” part was actually spaghetti noodles. Rice is easy to identify, I remembered that was in the dish. The pasta snapping quickly got tedious and I wasn’t so great with getting my “roni” in equal bits. They should have been smaller, but they worked out anyway.
When done, I put a large nonstick skillet on medium heat, added the butter, rice and spaghetti bits. I stirred them until they were very lightly golden brown. Last time I might have let them get a bit more brown, but vowed to do better this time. I added the water quickly to stop the browning, that was the trick.
I added the seasonings, Worcestershire and the spoons of beef bouillon to the skillet. You could use whatever beef broth you prefer but this stuff is the closest to a true beef broth I’ve found. It actually tastes like roasted beef, unlike the cartooned broths.
It’s a teaspoon of broth mixture per cup of water to make the broth. I added the beef broth and stirred well.
I added the carrots to the skillet along with the ground beef, stirred the mixture again, and let it simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally. The rice and roni had softened just right after 40 minutes of simmering. This dish takes approximately as long as risotto to make.
Carrots tender, rice and roni tender, I waited for the broth to finish reducing down to a good texture. When the broth was mostly absorbed I taste tested for seasoning and decide no further seasoning was necessary. My Rice a Roni was done.
I served it for dinner and it was delicious, about how I remembered it tasted way, way back when. My P.S. (Partner in Sustenance/ hubby) said it was “Bliss”. He loved it.
I haven’t had Rice a Roni in about 45 years (I know, ouch, right?) so I won’t swear by the flavors. I will say they are pleasing no matter how close they come. It’s worth eating as a comfort food now and then!
Beef Rice a Roni
- 1 lb cooked ground beef; season with salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup medium grain rice (not instant or long grain)
- 1 cup spaghetti broken into small pieces
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon salt – 5 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons beef bouillon (I use Better Than Bouillon) – 2 teaspoons Worcestershire
- 1/2 cup carrots; finely diced
- Melt butter in the pan over medium heat. Add rice and pasta, and cook stirring frequently until the pasta is browned.
- Add the onion and garlic powder, the parsley, salt, water, cooked ground beef, Worcestershire and carrots. Simmer for 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and carrots are tender, stirring occasionally.
- The original recipe calls for 4 cups of beef, I only used 2 cups which was about 1 lb.
- I also omitted the cremini mushrooms
- If you used canned or frozen carrots add them at the end just to heat through.
- The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of sherry and I changed it to 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire. You’re free to use the original ingredients!
Adapted from Or Whatever You Do