This version of estamboli polo uses ground beef instead of the stew beef used in the original estamboli polo recipe. This was the recipe I always cooked when I was going to college, because it was much faster and easier. You easily shave off an hour of cooking time by using ground beef. Back then I used canned green beans which didn’t require any cooking, so I was able to save even more time. If using canned beans, there is no need to add water. Simply cook your ground beef and combine with the green beans.
Estamboli Polo with Ground Beef (Green Bean Rice)
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 1.5 hr
Ready in: 1 hour 40 min
Yields: 4 to 6 servings
1 medium onion peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons oil
3/4 pound ground beef
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ teaspoon turmeric
3 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound frozen cut green beans
1/8 teaspoon saffron (optional)
2 cups long grain rice washed and drained
3½ cups water
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon salt
For meat mixture: heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground beef and cook until juices evaporate, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, salt, pepper and turmeric. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes. Add frozen green beans , saffron and ½ cup water. Bring to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until beans are tender, about 10 minutes. Add more water if needed.
For rice: Bring 3½ cups water to a boil in a 4.5-quart pot. Add rice, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 tablespoons oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the water and formed small holes on top (do not cover the pot). Pour rice into a bowl and set aside.
If using a rice cooker method, add all the ingredients to the pot of the rice maker. Start the cooking cycle and half way through the cycle, when all the water is gone, pour the rice into a bowl and set aside.
Assembly: Add 1 tablespoon oil to the same pot used to cook the rice. Place 1/3 of the rice on the bottom of the pot followed by 1/3 of the meat mixture. Continue to alternate the layers until all the ingredients are used. Use the handle of a wooden spoon to poke several holes in the rice, all the way to the bottom of the pot to allow steam to escape. Place a clean dishtowel or 2 layers of paper towel over the pot and cover firmly with a lid to absorb the steam.
Simmer on medium-high heat for 5 minutes then lower heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes.
To serve, gently spoon the rice mixture onto a serving platter, lightly mixing the ingredients. The bottom of the rice develops a crispy crust (tadigh) that can be served on a separate plate. To make a thicker crust use more oil on the bottom of the pot and simmer the rice longer, up to an hour.