Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Brown rice

Certain foods have something of a stigma attached to them in my house. For example, DP, as a child of Baby Boomers, was exposed to all sorts of groovy 70s food experimentation that completely passed by me, a child of an immigrant/ Depression/WWII household. Thus, while I was helping can tomatoes and roll out homemade pasta, DP was trying out tofu and brown rice. He seems to have been scarred by the experience: the very mention of either of those things still makes him shudder.



It hasn’t helped that my every attempt to cook brown rice has been an utter and unappetizing failure. At widely spaced intervals, I have steeled myself to try, and try again. I have used different methods and measurements every time, yet still ended up with the same inedible brownish mess that managed somehow to be simultaneously crunchy and mushy. And every batch served to confirm DP’s prejudice that brown rice was gross, and if I had to make rice, then why couldn’t I just stick with white rice? (And why did I have to make rice anyway, when there were potatoes to be had?)

However, I am nothing if not persistent, and I was determined that this, if I could just figure it out, was a no-brainer way to get some more whole grains into our diet. Plus, as much as I like white rice, sometimes I want something with a little more heft and complexity to it in the carbohydrate section of my meal. Also, I am certain that, in order to fulfill my ambitions of putting quinoa, barley, and bulgur wheat on the dinner table, I need to pave the way, so to speak, with brown rice—something familiar in a different form. So I tried one more time…but this time I remembered to consult the experts.

Even DP cleaned his plate.

Plain brown rice
Adapted from cooksillustrated.com (subscription required)
This method uses far more water to rice than any other recipe I have found, and apparently approximates how a rice cooker (which I don't own) cooks perfect rice. I think I have found a way to make the combination method of boiling and steaming less strenuous than it might at first appear.

2 Tbsp/30 g olive oil
1 cup/165 g brown rice
6 cups/1440 ml water
2 tsp/10 g salt (optional)

Heat water to boiling point, either in a medium-sized pan on the stovetop, or in a pourable vessel in the microwave. Meanwhile, heat oil in another medium-sized pan (one that has a lid or that you can cover) on medium-low heat.

When oil is warmed and moving freely in the pan, add the uncooked rice and stir to coat thoroughly with oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly, until the rice is warmed through.

Add hot water to pan with rice, then add salt. Stir to combine thoroughly, then clamp on a lid and leave rice alone for 30 minutes.

When 30 minutes are up, there should still be a fair amount of water in the pan with the rice. Place a collapsible steamer basket inside or on top of a heatproof bowl; remove rice from the heat and dump into the steamer.

Carefully remove steamer full of rice from heatproof bowl and set on water- and heatproof surface. Pour hot cooking liquid from rice back into hot pan, to a depth of about 1 in/2.5 cm; put pan back on stovetop on medium heat. Carefully place steamer full of rice back into hot pan and cover. Steam for 10 minutes.

Fluff and serve immediately. Makes 3 cups.

5 comments:

Southern Girl said... Best Blogger Tips

Okay, I am SO going to try this before too long. I refuse to make white rice because it has next to no nutritional value, but my brown rice always tastes blah!

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

SG, I can't emphasize enough how worth the extra effort this is. Next time I make it, I'm going to swap in chicken broth for some of the water to boost the flavor even more.

Shari said... Best Blogger Tips

Yeah, I've thought about using chicken broth. Just ANYthing to spice it up so it doesn't taste like eating soggy cardboard. ;)

(Dang, I hate forgetting to comment as me.)

Zippy365 said... Best Blogger Tips

Okay, Lemon,
Thank you. I'm going to try this on regular rice now--I'm talking Goya medium grain. Mine always turns out a gloopy sticky mess.
But Basmati, oh, basmati, how I love thee. Perfect, fluffy every time. You might not believe this, but I put 2 C of water in the pan with some salt, maybe some oil or butter, bring it to a boil, dip my 1 C measuring cup into the brown basmati bin, then into the regular basmati bin to fill it, dump, cover, turn the heat down and it comes out perfect every time. If it sticks to the bottom of the pan, I add a little water, cover, and turn the heat off. I do make sure to buy my basmati from the Indian grocer, in 10lb bags, I make sure it's aged.
And that's my rice story.

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Zip, I'm impressed. And if I find an Indian grocery store 'round these parts, I'll give your method a try. There must be one somewhere....

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