I don't think of myself as a gimmick-driven chef, but I like to grill rice. Grilling rice was a technique that began with a convergence. Specifically, my version of Spanish Rice was queued for cooking right after I made tamales. I had cornhusks soaking in water, but I'd run out of tamale innards. Usually when this happens I throw the husks away. It occurred to me that Spanish Rice has a texture akin to tamale masa. It seemed logical to take a leap of faith and scoop a portion of the rice into the husk and tie it up in a neat bundle.
More of the process...
If someone can engrave the Lord's Prayer on a grain of rice, I ought to be able to grill the little morsels.
The first time I put rice in cornhusks I steamed the bundles - just like tamales. It turned out to be a good enough recipe to make again. The next time the recipe got better because I used a grill pan to finish the bundled rice. We did this in a recent class and even the less-than-confident cooks were a great success. If you use a real grill instead of a grill pan do the rice bundles first, and then put them on the grill's keep-it-warm rack while you grill the entrée.
I think of my recipe for Grilled Spanish Rice as a suggestion. In fact, I encourage a bit of experimentation. Just keep in mind that the rice will lose some moisture when it's grilled. Make sure that you fill the husk with moist rice - and a little cheese wouldn't hurt. I used Cotija. To enhance the tomato flavor I added some sundried tomatoes to augment the traditional can of diced tomatoes. I used fresh minced garlic, but I thought the rice needed more so added some garlic powder. A little oregano and some ground chipotle rounded out the seasonings.
The technique works for things other than rice. I tried it successfully with buttered carrots, so I'm thinking that it will work with all sorts of other vegetables. If you've successfully grilled other stuff in cornhusks post a comment to let me (and the rest of the world) know. More links to engraved rice sites will also be appreciated.
Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.