Thursday, January 12, 2012

{The Basics} Perfect Brown Rice

If given a choice between eating white or brown rice, I'd choose brown rice any day.  Not only because it's healthier than choosing white rice, but also because I happen to prefer the way it tastes - I love the nutty flavor and chewy texture of brown rice.  With brown rice the bran layer has been left intact, which makes it high in fiber and essential minerals.  While white rice is more convenient because it cooks faster and is more commonly prefered because it's fluffier in texture, it's not as nutritious and needs to be fortified in order for some of the lost nutrients to be added back in.  Personally, I prefer to stick with the all-natural choice.
The only problem is - brown rice is a pain to cook.  If there's one thing in the kitchen that gives me the biggest challenge it's producing perfectly cooked {not sticky, soggy or mushy} brown rice.  I typically follow the package instructions - which I've learned is not the best idea! - and no matter how precise I am in my measurements, it just never turns out well. 
I've found the only place I can enjoy perfectly cooked brown rice is when I order it from an Asian restaurant.  I believe most use a rice cooker/steamer to achieve their perfect results.  I've considered buying one, but decided it was just another small kitchen appliance that would take up precious cabinet or counter space - not to mention, most decent quality models are very pricey.
So - for me this method from Saveur magazine has been such a great discovery!  I was apprehensive it would work as it claimed, but the results have been spot on and fool-proof after many attempts cooking rice this way.  It really couldn't be simpler and the best part about it is the rice cooks quicker using this method than using the standard water absorpbtion method.  Who has an hour on a weeknight to cook brown rice?  Most nights, I certainly don't - which is why I don't serve it as much as I would like to.
With this method all that is required is some measuring of the two ingredients {dry brown rice and water}, rinsing the rice, followed by 30 minutes of simmering, a quick drain in a colander and then a 10 minute steam {to absorb the last bits of water}.  It is recommended you use a pot with a heavy, tight-fitting lid - something like a Dutch oven would be prefect.  But I realize not everyone owns one of these pots, so I also tried this method using a standard stockpot.  To prevent any steam from escaping through the lid I covered the top of the pot tightly with foil before placing the lid on top - this worked perfectly as well.
I believe this method will work for white rice as well - although the cooking time would be less, of course.  However, I have not tried it - so I can't vouch for the results {If anyone does, please let me know in the comment section}.  Now that I've learned this method I can't say I'll be eating much white rice from now on.
Have any of you tried this method before and had as much success as I did?  What's your favorite way to cook brown rice?
Next up - some recipes to use your perfectly cooked brown rice with!

Perfect Brown Rice

Adapted from Saveur magazine, Issue #111
Makes 4 cups
This recipe can easily be decreased or multiplied keeping in mind that 1 cup of dry rice = 2 cups cooked.  With this method the water measurement is not essential - it simply needs to be enough to boil the rice for 30 minutes, without running out or crowding the rice as it simmers.  For instance, if you are using 1 cup of dry rice, 4-5 cups of water will be sufficent - if you are using 3 cups of dry rice, use roughly 12-14 cups water.

2 cups short grain brown rice
at least 8 cups water

Rinse the rice under cold water, using a fine mesh strainer.  Bring the water to a boil in a stockpot over high heat.  Stir in the rice and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes {you should reduce the heat slightly so it doesn't boil over}. 
Using the same colander, drain the rice for 10 seconds only.  Return the rice to the stockpot, cover and let the rice rest, off the heat, for 10 minutes.  Remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork and serve.  

Click here for the printable recipe.


kankana said...

This is so helpful! I tried twice with brown rice and failed both the time, it's mushy .. soggy and the hubby decided never to buy brown rice again. I have to try this method soon!

Carolyn said...

Very smart! I will definitely try this method. Once upon a time I saw Ina Garten use a similar method for boiling potatoes. I've tried that since (you boil them until almost tender and then just leave them in the colander in the sink with a kitchen towel over them), and it works well, too.

Heidi @ Food Doodles said...

I love this idea - I actually read somewhere that what makes it sticky is too little water, so the grains rub together and get sticky so this makes perfect sense. I'll have to try it when I can't use my usual method. I actually bake my brown rice in the oven, 2 1/2C water to 1 1/2C rice at 375 degrees for an hour after bringing it to a boil on the stove. It turns out perfect every time, and that's saying a lot because I could never cook rice just right either.

Joanne said...

Ah! So excited! I love the texture of brown rice but am SO bad at cooking it that I've just stopped. It was shameful.

But now I can get back into it again!

Anonymous said...

We make brown rice probably twice a week in a Cuisinart rice cooker using chicken stock instead of water and sometimes throw in a bay leaf. We've been using this rice cooker for 6-7 years and the rice turns out perfectly every time. Love it.

Megan said...

I totally agree with you on the taste of brown rice versus white rice - something about the texture and flavor just makes brown rice tastier. The fact that it's healthier is just a bonus!

Jeanette said...

I used to make brown rice on the stove and it took me a few tries to get it right. Now I make it in my rice cooker and it comes out perfectly (but then again, I use my rice cooker a lot). Love that picture of the water boiling - so cool!

kate said...

thanks for all the comments everyone! it seems a rice cooker really is the way to go - if you happen to own one. i'm just resisting it because i hate the thought of owning one more kitchen appliance that i'll only use once in awhile. for folks that make rice at least once a week or more it makes sense for sure though!
for now - this method is working very well for me ;)

Vicki Carroll said...

I understand how you feel about the rice cooker - we resisted getting one until we got a couple of Macy's gift cards for Christmas (in '10). Finally, we could afford the zojirushi fuzzy logic cooker that all the reviews on amazon insisted was the best. We use it for far more than rice - it is an excellent way to fix steel cut oats - set them up the night before, let the cooker know what time you want them done, and you wake up to hot breakfast! It is also great for rice and lentil recipes and the like, which, from this visit to your site, would be great for you. I'm ready to try it with barley and farro, because we're trying to get more grains and beans into our diet - just revived our old pressure cooker with a new gasket, for the beans. Give a little more thought to the many ways you could use a rice cooker, and you'll see that it earns that little piece of countertop real estate, in addition to justifying the cash investment!

colefrm said...

You can get a rice cooker that is a veggie steamer too. It has a basket that you put the rice in.

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