Swiss Retro Recipe: Riz Casimir

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An easy meal for kids, I’ve created a dairy-free version of a popular Swiss dish from the 1950s: Riz Casimir.

I first discovered Riz Casimir at Zurich’s Hiltl Restaurant in December 2013. When I saw it on the menu, I didn’t realize this curry dish was actually over a half-century old and known throughout Switzerland. Only after trying Hiltl’s vegetarian version did I start noticing this dish in other restaurants and among the prepared meals from Coop and Migros. Finally, after I came across a simple recipe for Riz Casimir in my Swiss cookbook for public schools, Croqu’menus, I decided to try making it myself.

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According to Betty Bossi, Riz Casimir is often mentioned as a favorite dish by people of all ages in Switzerland. The founder of the Mövenpick restaurants, Ueli Prager, developed this recipe in 1952 with ingredients considered exotic for the time: curry, pineapple and banana. Ultimately, it seems Riz Casimir is the Swiss interpretation of Kashmiri Rice, a northern Indian dish.

Instead of using cream, I’ve been making Riz Casimir with coconut milk. I also added a few other ingredients, like fresh garlic and ginger, and some optional toppings, like chopped cashews and cilantro, to give it a little more flavor and texture. My 3-year old isn’t a huge fan of curry, but this is a very mild recipe.

In terms of presentation, I modeled my version after the photo in my Swiss cookbook of a wreath of rice decorated with banana, pineapple and cherries, and the curry nestled in the center. Honestly, it feels a little ridiculous arranging the fruit like this on the platter, but if it helps my finicky kids find it more appealing, I’ll continue to do it!


Riz Casimir

Recipe adapted from Croqu’menus (9th edition, 2005, p. 91).
(dairy-free, egg-free)
Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients:

1-2 teaspoons sunflower or canola oil
2 shallots, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 thumb-sized knob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated or chopped
4 chicken breasts, sliced into thin and bite-size pieces
100 ml white wine or allergy-friendly chicken/vegetable broth
250 ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon curry powder
1-2 teaspoons cornstarch
salt, to taste

Optional toppings: chopped cilantro and cashews, pineapple rings and apple slices

Serve with hot basmati rice

Instructions:

1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Saute the shallots, ginger and garlic for a few minutes until tender and fragrant.

2. Cook the chicken for about 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently, until its nearly done. Remove from the pan and set-aside. Add the wine (or chicken/vegetable broth) and simmer for a few minutes.

3. Add the coconut milk and curry powder to the wine in the pan, and whisk it together until well-incorporated.

4. Whisk in the cornstarch and return the chicken to the pan. Simmer for about 5 minutes more until the sauces thickens slightly.

5. Serve immediately with basmati rice and optional toppings.


Suisse-Romande Roast Chicken

Despite the cold weather in the United States, we’ve had a relatively mild winter thus far in our small corner of Switzerland. My 6-year old’s ski lesson was cancelled one day over Christmas vacation due to heavy rain and not enough good snow. Having grown up in Minnesota, I always enjoy a cold and snowy winter. This year’s Swiss winter hasn’t met my expectations yet.

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We can find snow up in the mountains, but it hasn’t arrived down by the lake where we live.

Even without the wintry weather, we’ve had many cloudy and foggy days without much sunlight. This weather calls for roast chicken, and I’ve found a recipe that’s become almost a weekly meal in our household: Poulet au citron de Suisse romande (loosely translated, Swiss-Romandy Lemon Chicken). We’ve made this at least a half dozen times now—when I manage to have all the ingredients, and I don’t forget about the 2-hour marinating time! Roast chicken is such a warm and comforting meal for our Sunday night dinner, and it’s great for Monday leftovers.

 

Poulet au Citron de Suisse-Romande

chasselasAdapted from Les recettes de Grand-Mère, Tome 5. Published in 2011 by the Association Alzheimer Suisse, Yverdon-les-Bains.

(dairy/egg/nut-free)

1 whole chicken
juice of 2 lemons
6-7 shallots
3 tablespoons dairy-free margarine, softened
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon herbes de provence
2 lemons
100 ml white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Place the raw chicken in a large, oven-safe pot or roasting pan. Rub the chicken with lemon juice and place in the refrigerator to marinate for about 2 hours.

2. Set-aside 2 shallots in a small bowl. Cut the rest in half and arrange in the pot around the chicken.

3. Mix together the dairy-free margarine, mustard and herbs. Take out 1 tablespoon of the mixture and mix together with the remaining shallots. Stuff the shallots and half a lemon into the chicken. You can truss the chicken with some kitchen string, if you want to.

4. Spread the remaining margarine mixture evenly on the outside of the chicken. I threw half a lemon into the pot before baking too, but it’s not necessary.

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5. Place chicken in a preheated oven at 200°C/400°F for 1 1/4 hours. Then, drizzle with wine, add lemon slices and let simmer briefly in the oven for another 10-15 minutes.

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6. Using a meat thermometer, check to make sure the chicken has reached the recommended temperature of 75°C/165°F. Take the chicken out of the oven and allow to sit for another 10-15 minutes. Remove the lemon and shallots and place them around the chicken on a serving platter. Then, reduce the sauce over medium-high heat until slightly thickened.

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On Monday night, I made Sher-Ping Pancakes with some of the leftover chicken, this time using basil instead of cilantro. What do you make with your leftover roast chicken?

Updated: I (finally) removed the directions about rinsing the raw chicken in cold water. Recent guidance indicates this step isn’t necessary and can actually increase the risk of foodbourne illness. November 2, 2014.