Pecan rice is a rice hybrid which was developed in the American South. The rice has been bred to be extremely aromatic, smelling almost like popcorn when it is cooked, and because it is typically sold in brown form, retaining its outer bran, it has a rich, nutty flavor which is indeed reminiscent of pecans. Gourmet markets and health food stores both carry pecan rice, and it can also be ordered directly from specialty companies which carry various cultivars of aromatic and exotic rice.
This rice is also sometimes sold as wild pecan rice, although it is not in fact derived from wild rice. However, like wild rice, pecan has a very rich, intense, nutty flavor which is markedly different from other rice cultivars. Like other varieties of aromatic rice, this rice has been produced by painstakingly crossing various rice cultivars to yield the desired effect, and as a result pecan rice can be more expensive than more conventional varieties of rice.
In addition to being found in whole form with its bran intact, pecan rice is also sold in hulled form as white rice. The white rice retains some of the flavor and aroma of the brown rice variety, although it is much less intense. White pecan rice is also lower in fiber and nutrients, many of which are concentrated in the rich bran. Pecan rice can also be sold in rice mixtures which combine several cultivars of aromatic or exotic rice.
This rice can be used like any other variety of rice in an assortment of dishes. Some cooks like to use pecan rice in stuffing, risotto, and other rich dishes, although it can also be served with stir fry, in soups, and in a variety of other ways. Because of the strong nutty aroma and flavor, pecan rice doesn't pair well with all foods, especially more delicately flavored dishes, but it is quite versatile.
To cook pecan rice, cooks should first rinse the grains to remove any detritus left over from the field, and then soak them for several hours before cooking. Soaking will soften the rice, ensuring that it cooks more quickly while retaining a chewy texture. After soaking, the rice should be drained, and roughly two cups of water should be added for every one cup of rice before bringing the rice to a simmer and then turning it down so that it will not boil over. Depending on how long the rice has soaked, it will take 20-40 minutes to cook.