February 19, 2010

Brown Rice, Made Easy

You may recall a post from several months ago in which I described my delight at having come across short grain brown rice.  I was excited to try using it for risotto as a part of our effort to eliminate white grains from our diet.  I am sorry to report that I haven’t been able to successfully produce brown rice risotto.  Both of my attempts yielded a slightly crunchy and not particularly creamy result after over an hour of cook time.  The second time, after the initial toasting of the rice, I tried cooking it covered with a few cups of broth for the first 15-20 minutes.   It didn’t seem to make a bit of difference.  Sometime, I will get motivated and try again, but for now we are sticking with white rice risotto.  There are some things that are just too good to give up.  And risotto is one of them. 

Of course, there are other ways to eat brown rice.  However, we never used to make it very often because even the traditional method is such a hassle.  Not only does it take forever, but it’s usually either over- or under-cooked and always has a nice thick layer of burnt rice on the bottom.   

Last week, when we were planning to make stir fry for dinner, I paid a visit to cooksillustrated.com.  In addition to finding a wonderful stir fry recipe, I came across several articles about the best way to cook brown rice.   An entry from January 1994 suggested a combination of boiling and steaming to achieve perfectly textured brown rice.  It seemed like a lot of trouble to me.  Then I found several recipes from March 2009, which used the oven! 

Maybe this is old news to some, but I thought it was brilliant.  Just put it in the oven and forget about it for an hour!  And since the heat comes from all sides, there’s no need to be concerned about burning the bottom.   I adapted the Cook’s Illustrated recipes to a simple, plain rice that cooks in about 30 minutes less than their recipe.  The result is perfectly easy and delicious brown rice – and lots of it.  We made enough for several nights of stir fry, with plenty left over to freeze for those nights when we need dinner ready in under an hour. 

Here’s what I did:

Basic Oven-Baked Brown Rice
printable recipe

Makes 10-12 servings.

6 1/4 cups water
3 cups long-grained brown rice
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons oil, optional

Preheat oven to 375°F.  

In a large Dutch oven (or stock pot with tight-fitting lid), stir together water, rice, salt, and oil and bring to a boil. When it boils, cover with lid, turn off heat, and transfer to heated oven. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. 

(Check at 35 minutes for doneness and remaining water. If a lot of water remains and rice is almost cooked, remove the lid (with a potholder!) and let the rice finish in the oven uncovered.)

Remove from the oven.  Fluff the rice with a fork, re-cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.


Once the leftovers are cool, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen in a freezer-safe container or plastic freezer bag for several months.

…See how easy that was?


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