GET COOK­ING: The only way to make rice. Trust us.»

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - Reach Bill St. John at bsj­post@gmail.com. By Bill St. John, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

If any­thing in the kitchen proves the rule that the sim­plest things are of­ten the most dif­fi­cult, it is cook­ing a pot of white rice. (If you use a rice cooker, you don’t need this col­umn; go away.)

If it weren’t such a bu­ga­boo, why have there been so many recipes and meth­ods over the years, from ex­perts and home cooks both, for how to cook that one sim­ple dish?

Like many In­dian cooks, James Beard cooks a scant cou­ple cups of rice in quarts of rolling, boil­ing wa­ter, open-topped, as the pasta is cooked. Mark Bittman weaves a vari­a­tion on both Beard’s boil­ing and the folk recipe of “pour wa­ter over the dry rice to the first knuckle of your fin­ger.” Bittman boils his white rice open-topped, too, just in less per­turbed wa­ter.

Ju­lia Child mimes an Asian way: two times the amount of wa­ter to rice; mix and bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat to a whim­per for 15 min­utes. (Both Cor­don Bleu and Qin Dy­nasty fin­ish with “Let stand 10 min­utes, cov­ered.”)

The 1931 first edi­tion of “The Joy of Cook­ing” has sev­eral “try this” meth­ods of boil­ing, steaming or oven-fin­ish­ing white rice. It’s a head-spin­ning raft of recipes.

I used to hew to the China-Ju­lia way to pre­pare my long-grained white rice, un­til I found Can’tMiss Rice by New York Times food writer Kim Sev­er­son. It is flaw­less, and the only — I re­peat, only — recipe for cook­ing white rice.

Un­less you own a rice cooker.

Kim Sev­er­son’s Can’t-Miss Rice

In­gre­di­ents

1 cup long-grain white rice 1 ta­ble­spoon un­salted but­ter 1 tea­spoon salt

2 cups wa­ter Di­rec­tions

Heat oven to 350 de­grees. Rinse rice well un­der cold wa­ter. In a large oven­proof saucepan, heat but­ter over medium heat un­til foam­ing. Add rice and stir to com­bine. Cook un­til rice is coated with but­ter and starts to smell nutty. Add the wa­ter and the salt.

Bring to a boil, cover with a tight-fit­ting lid and place in oven. Bake for 17 min­utes. Re­move from oven and let stand 10 min­utes with­out re­mov­ing the lid.

Bill’s notes: At our alti­tude and hu­mid­ity, I add 1 ta­ble­spoon wa­ter and bake the rice for 18, not 17, min­utes. I also place 2-3 sheets of pa­per tow­el­ing be­tween the lid and the pot of rice be­fore plac­ing them in the oven. This pre­vents con­den­sa­tion of steam drip­ping into the rice as it cooks.

Don’t skimp on the rice rinse — make it a good, thor­ough one at the be­gin­ning of the recipe. It is a step called for in nearly all recipes where you de­sire the ker­nels to be both fluffy and sep­a­rate from each other. No rinse? Sticky, gloppy, gummy. Nope.

Den­ver Post file

Rins­ing rice is a crit­i­cal step.

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