22 November 2007

Perfect Brown Rice

I am a convert to Jack Bishop's method of cooking brown rice.

The problem with brown rice is that it tends to be a bit sticky in a bad way. Or kind of waterlogged and heavy. Or just always texturally not very exciting. It's like a lump of unpleasantness that is best served with saucy things that hide it a bit. (My exception to the rule is a brown rice blend with wild rice. In particular, the one made by Lundberg, which is absolutely fantastic. I haven't made it in a long while because the last time I did I managed to smoke out the entire upstairs whilst reducing the rice to a lump of black charcoal. Yes, really. But it is a really, really tasty blend.)

At any rate, Jack Bishop's book A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen offers up a solution to the brown rice problem. (Though he rightly points out that brown rice just isn't suited to every dish, and nutritional benefits be damned, sometimes you just have to eat the white stuff.) The method sounds a little fussy, but it only adds one extra bit of kitchen hardware - the steamer insert - and one extra step. It doesn't add extra time.

So here's the way to do it:

Cook the rice like pasta, in a ton of water (he uses one part rice, six parts water), for about 30 minutes. Drain it into a steamer insert. Put about an inch of water back into the pot and return to the heat. Put the steamer insert back into the pot, cover, and steam for another ten minutes.

The results should be fluffy with individual grains of rice, rather than the sodden lump (or crunchy lump, depending on your usual results) that the directions on the bag generally give.

I made it yesterday and I don't think I've ever had such good brown rice. (Which I promptly mixed into a bowl of chili, thus rendering the extra step a bit of a waste, since the usual old brown rice would have sufficed. BUT I made four servings and froze the rest for later.)

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