Boreal Cranberry Wild Rice and Birch Syrup Pilaf

Boreal Cranberry Wild Rice and Birch Syrup Pilaf

This fall side dish is intended to show off the bounty of your garden’s and the boreal forest’s autumn harvest. Substitute store-bought cranberries if you don’t have a wild supply and use your favourite garden herbs.


  • 1.5 tbsp butter
  • ½ cup wild rice
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh garden herbs (oregano, thyme, tarragon)
  • 3 cups chicken broth


  • 1 cup cranberries
  • 3 fresh green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 cup birch syrup candied pecans (see recipe below)


  • ¼ tsp fresh minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp birch syrup
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste


Heat oven to 375°F. In a dutch oven or stove-top safe casserole dish, sauté the onion, garlic, ginger and fresh garden herbs in butter over low heat. Add the rice. Continue to simmer on low heat for two minutes.  Add the broth, cover with lid or well-sealed tin foil and cook in the oven for 1 hour or until rice is light and fluffy and the broth has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients in a small blender. Stir in the sauce to pilaf after it has been removed from the oven. Add the cranberries, green onions, and candied pecans, leaving some of these ingredients aside to add as a garnish.


Birch Syrup Candied Pecans

  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 pound pecan halves
  • 2 tbsp birch syrup

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Beat the egg whites until frothy. Mix in the pecan halves. Mix in the birch syrup. Spread the pecan halves on a baking sheet and bake in the oven 1 hour or until lightly browned. Stir every fifteen minutes.

Toasted Bread with Spruce Jelly and Ground Juniper [Optional Sidedish]

To further celebrate the flavours of the boreal forest, we like to serve this with toasted spruce tip focaccia bread, dribbled with high-quality olive oil, birch syrup and sprinkled with ground juniper berry.

Alternatively, if you can find a spruce tip jelly or make some in the early spring, spread the jelly on crackers or toasted bread and sprinkle with juniper berries. Juniper berries are abundant throughout the boreal forest. Though they take three years to ripen, you will easily know when they are ready to pick because they reach a deep purple colour. Bring them indoors to dry and toss them in your pepper grinder for some unique flavourful additions to your favourite dishes. If you don’t have an opportunity to forage, look for spruce tip jellies and juniper berries in your local specialty food and/or spice shop.

To make spruce tip jelly, boil four cups of spruce tips with 4.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer, covered for an hour. Strain remaining water (around 3 cups) into a smaller saucepan. Over low heat, dissolve 2 tbsp of pectin, ¾ water in the spruce juice. Add 2 tbsp of lemon juice. Bring to a boil for about two minutes. Allow to cool and can. Enjoy!

Recipe, Words and Post Photos by Richard Mcintosh and Christine Wenman
Feature Image by Kyle Thomas/World Shore Lunch Championship

Featuring local recipes is something new here on Yellowknife Online but we like the idea of continuing this series as and when we find local recipes to try. If you have a recipe using local ingredients to share please send them in.


About the author

Kyle Thomas

Kyle grew up in Yellowknife and is a local entrepreneur, writer, baker, and Yellowknife Advocate who is addicted to learning as much as he can about the community and sharing it with anyone who'll listen. In 2009 he developed A website all about living, working and thriving in Yellowknife for residents, newcomers, and visitors.

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