Brown Rice | How To

Ahhh, brown rice. Brown rice is one of those foods that gets a bad rap for being “healthy.” I don’t mean healthy in that whole grains are good for you or that it has a lot of fiber as well as important vitamins minerals that are often stripped from white rice. No, I mean it is called “healthy” because when made at home it often doesn’t taste good and it’s only redeeming quality is its health value. Kind of like hearing that your blind date “has a good personality,” describing a food as healthy first has a way of decreasing your expectations for its actual flavor.

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So let’s ignore the fact that brown rice is actually good for you. Brown rice is delicious – it’s nutty and chewy and actually adds something other than starch to your dish. Ok, a lot of brown rice is kind of gummy or crunchy but when it’s cooked well, brown rice can be amazing. Over the years I’ve cooked a lot of slightly under and over cooked brown rice. I’ve even been able to achieve the both over- and undercooked version of brown rice – you know, the one where the rice is both soggy and unpleasantly crunchy?

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There are lots of recipes out there with varying levels of complexity. But I really think that rice should be easy to make – it should not require multiple techniques or an hour to bring a staggering volume of water to a boil. It should be that think you make to go with the leftovers from last night and it should be on the table within an hour and it should take you no more than 10 minutes of active time. Are you with me?

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You will need:
Oven-safe medium sized pot with oven=proof lid – you can make a lid out of tinfoil if your lid isn’t oven safe.
1 2/3 or 2 cups water
1 tsp kosher salt – this is key, do not leave it out. Salt helps to mask bitter flavors and enhance sweet and savory ones. The resulting rice will taste better if it’s salted, no matter what method you choose.
1 cup Long grain brown rice – no short or medium grain here, they are too apt to get mushy and while that works in some cases, it’s not what we’re looking for here.
1 tbs olive oil (optional)

How to – baked brown rice
Adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Step 1. Preheat over to 350F.
Optional Step 1(a). Heat the olive oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the rice and salt and cook for two minutes.
Step 2. Add 2 cups water and bring to a boil.
Step 3. Cover pot and place in oven. Bake for 30 minutes.
Step 4. Remove rice from oven and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes (do not lift the lid until the time is up!)
Step 5. Fluff with a fork and enjoy.

How to – Stovetop* Brown Rice
*I think baked brown rice is superior to stove top since the all-around heat of the oven cooks the rice more evenly and results in rice that is chewy but not crunchy and never soggy. That said, if you still love the ease of the stovetop method, here’s the best way I’ve found to do it.
Step 1. Place the rice in a colander and rinse it thoroughly until the water runs clear and now longer contains starch.
Step 2. Place rice, salt and 1 2/3 cup water in a medium pot and bring to a boil.
Step 3. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to medium low – you still want a very gentle simmer. Set a timer for 30 minutes.
Step 4. While keeping the rice covered turn the heat off and move the pot to a cool burner or to a counter space. Let it sit and steam for 20 minutes. If you lift the lid when it comes out of the oven the rice will look wet, just let it steam and the water will absorb.
Step 5. Fluff with a fork and enjoy.

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