Monday, April 20, 2009

I can't seem to get my rice right. What's your secret?

Rice can be a very tricky and frustrating thing to make. Small variations in the cooking process will leave you with a different final product. Soggy, soft, sticky, and sometimes just crunchy. I've made them all. Most rice directions are super simple: put rice and liquid in a pot, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cover for 20 minutes.

This is fine, but there are a few things they don't tell you. For a more western hemisphere flavor, a little toasting will go a long way. The slightest color on the rice kernels will make for great nutty flavor. Just heat a little oil in the pot you're going to use and stir your rice over medium heat for a maybe three to four minutes. Skip this step for eastern recipes that want a cleaner rice flavor.

Now you add the liquid (wine, stock, water, etc), unless it's risotto DON'T STIR IT until it's done! This agitates the starch in the rice and can make it gummy and sticky. Also, as the rice is settling, it will naturally form its own little "chimney" system to release steam as it's cooking. A simple stir will close the flute on your rice, trapping stream in (or out). which can leave you with one big clump of rice.

Once the whole thing comes to a boil, the typical directions are to lower it to cover and lower it to a simmer. Here's my beef with this. Stove tops can be SO different. Meaning the simmering temperature will vary greatly, giving every household a different rice. Over the years, cooking in many different homes, I've resorted to a more fool-proof solution. Bake it!

Once it comes to a boil, cover your pot and put it in a 350 degree oven for the duration of time the directions call for (usually around 20 min.) This has a few benefits: 350 degrees is always 350 degrees (I do travel with a thermometer to make sure) and rather than the heat coming only from the bottom (the flame under the pot) it is radiating from all directions, guaranteeing even cooking.
This is more of a pilaf method, but it's good for any rice, and it's hard to mess up.

***I want to make a note on rice cookers too. I love them, and I use mine all time. It's completely fool poof and you can use it for a lot of stuff. You put in the rice and water and push a button. Internally there is a temperature gauge that shuts off when it reaches the right temperature. The secret is, due to physics, it can't reach this temperature until a certain amount of liquid has either been absorbed or steamed out. Which makes the rice cooker friendly to almost any thing made in this method. Oatmeal, bulgar wheat, quinoa, you name the grain, most of them are rice cooker friendly.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Creative Commons License
Grill-a-Chef by Joshua Stokes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.