Notes: This festive rice comes from Faz Poursohi, chef and proprietor of the Faz restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. It tastes best freshly cooked, but you can prepare the candied peel, almonds, and cranberries through step 3 up to 1 day ahead; cover separately and store at room temperature.
Sunset NOVEMBER 2003
1. With a vegetable peeler, pare skin (orange part only) from oranges. Cut peel into thin strips; you should have about 1/2 cup. Reserve fruit for garnish or another use.
2. In a 1- to 1 1/2-quart pan, combine orange peel and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until peel has lost its sharp bitter taste, 3 to 4 minutes; drain. Return peel to pan and add 1/2 cup water and sugar; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until peel is shiny and translucent, about 15 minutes. Strain; reserve syrup for another use.
3. Meanwhile, in a 5- to 6-quart nonstick pan over medium heat, stir almonds until golden, 4 to 5 minutes; pour from pan. Add 1 tablespoon butter, 1 tablespoon water, and the cranberries to pan; stir until cranberries are puffy and beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from pan and wash pan.
4. Add 2 quarts water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to pan; bring to a boil over high heat. Add rice and boil, uncovered, until slightly translucent but still firm to bite, 5 to 8 minutes. Pour into fine strainer or colander (lined with cheesecloth if holes are large). Rinse rice and drain well. Rinse and dry pan.
5. Add remaining 2 tablespoons butter to pan over low heat; when melted, tilt pan to coat bottom and about 1 inch up sides. Return rice to pan, drizzle with 2 tablespoons water, cover tightly, and cook over medium-high heat until rice is hot and pan fills with steam, 3 to 5 minutes; reduce heat to very low and cook until tender to bite, 10 to 15 minutes. (If not ready to serve, keep tightly covered, remove from heat, and let stand up to 15 minutes.)
6. With your fingers, crumble saffron into a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup hot water and let stand at least 5 minutes. Add saffron mixture, candied orange peel, and cranberries to rice and mix gently. Add salt to taste.
7. Spoon rice onto a platter. Sprinkle with almonds and pistachios.
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