Preheat the oven to 350.
Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucier over medium heat.
Stir in the onion, bell pepper and 2 pinches of salt.
Decrease the heat to low and sweat until the onion is translucent and aromatic but not browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and add the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, until you smell nuts, another 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the saffron and its water, the broth, orange zest, bay leaves and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Increase the heat and bring to a boil.
OK, now the weird part: Thoroughly wet a clean towel, kill the heat, scatter the peas on top of the rice, then place the towel across the top of the saucier. Top with the lid, then fold the towel corners up over the lid.
Transfer the saucier (towel and all) to the oven and bake 15 minutes.
Remove and rest at room temperature for 15 more minutes without opening the lid.
Fish out the orange zest and bay leaves. Turn the pilaf out onto a platter, fluff with a large fork and garnish with the raisins and pistachios. Serve family-style, right in the middle of the table.
Photograph by Hallie Burton
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown for Food Network Magazine