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Brown Rice Cooking Help

  • d

I seem to be cooking and eating a lot more brown rice these days, due to some dietary changes, and I have been having difficulty getting it to come out right--it's either overdone and mushy or underdone and chewy--and this would seem to be an easy thing to cook! I am a very experienced home cook (for the past 40+ years) so this shouldn't be a challenge for me. Any helpful hints are appreciated--do I need a rice cooker, perhaps?

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  1. I make brown rice all the time and, yes yes, I know some people dislike it, but cook's illustrated recipe is the BEST I've ever made. It is always absolutely consistent. The point of it is keeping your liquid at the same temp. Unfortunately, you have to bake it for an hour, but it's WELL worth it. I used to hate brown rice, now I love it.

    Be sure to cover the saucepan and use the water as soon as it reaches a boil. I use a square glass dish with a lid.

    serves 4 to 6
    1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice or medium-grain brown rice, or short-grain brown rice
    2 1/3 cups water (or broth)
    2 teaspoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil
    1/2 teaspoon table salt

    heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread rice in 8-inch-square glass baking dish. Bring water and butter or oil to boil, covered, in medium saucepan over high heat; immediately stir in salt and pour water over rice when it's boiling. Cover baking dish with doubled layer of foil (I use one layer of foil and the lid). Bake for 1 hour. Remove, uncover, fluff, then re-cover with dish towel; let stand 5 minutes. Uncover and let stand 5 minutes longer.

    You can add all kinds of yummy stuff to this, too. CI had a version with basil, parsley, garlic, shallot, lemon and parm that was fantastic, too.

    Good luck. I recommend giving it a try!

    1 Reply
    1. re: krissywats

      Yes, I like this method too. I use a rice cooker for it these days, but this method works great.

    2. I will probably get blasted for this but here it goes.....

      I too had difficulty cooking brown rice so that it came out "right". I tried virtually all the no fail cooking techniques to no avail. Everyone suggested getting a rice cooker but I have no use for yet another gadget being that I am short on storage space as it is. What I do is buy TJ's frozen pre-cooked bags of brown rice. The box comes with 3 bags and each bags is approx 2-3 meal size servings. Just micro for 3 minutes and you are done. I bring brown rice with mixed veggies and 2-3 oz of some kind of protein for lunch everyday.

      Yes, I know that the cost of a rice cooker would "pay for itself" in no time since brown rice is very cheap in bulk and then I could freeze bags myself, blah, blah, blah. But for me TJ's convenience is worth it because it is a no brainer to add whole grains to my diet this way and insures that I bring a healthy low fat/low cal/high fiber lunch to work a day, avoiding the cafeteria all together.

      So if all else fails for you I highly suggest TJ's!

      4 Replies
      1. re: foodiex2

        i've recently discovered TJ's pre-cooked brown rice bags and i love them. when i first saw them in the store i had doubts, but i think they have a good quality to convenience ratio. i live in an apartment so i have limited cabinet space to store a rice cooker and a big bag of rice, and i have the tiniest freezer on earth which makes freezing items for future use next to impossible. plus, i just don't have the time to wait 50 minutes for brown rice to cook. it's nice to actually have a healthy option that can be ready in 3 minutes that doesn't taste crappy.

        1. re: foodiex2

          This is Trader Joe's--right? I don't have one that close to me, but I do make the trip now and then when I'm nearby and I'll look for it. This sounds perfect to me, even though I admit it's probably not the cheapest idea. I'm OK with going for convenience if it means I can stick to my eating program. Thanks so much for the tip!!

          1. re: Diane

            Yup, Traders Joe. No, it is not the cheapest but it guarantees I eat healthy so to its worth the trade off. If you can't get there often maybe you can spare the space in the freezer to stock up!!

          2. re: foodiex2

            I think the TK brown rice in a bag is a little dry, when cooked. I have a rice steamer (you put water in the bowl with the rice AND between the bowl and the cooker) and rice comes out perfect every time.

          3. Try "toasting" the rice in a hot pan before adding the water. Works for me.

            1. I use a rice cooker. A hint my grandmother just told me is to soak the brown rice (after washing) for a few hours before cooking.

              I think you also need to experiment with rice to water ratios - adjust it to your taste..

              1. d
                Das Ubergeek

                I use a rice cooker... put in brown rice, stick my finger in, pour water up to the second knuckle (assumes at least a cup of rice).

                1. Greetings from Tokyo. I was on a brown rice kick last summer when one of my cooking teachers, who also runs a vegetarian kaiseki restaurant, told me that unless I chew the rice 30 times, I am not going to get the complete health benefits from it.

                  Could this be true? Any nutritionists out there???

                  It may be a Japanese saying with no truth behind it, but I have since started blending my white rice with brown rice. About 2/3 white with 1/3 brown and then do it in the rice cooker.

                  A great dish with 100% brown rice is to make an "okayu" or rice porridge out of it. Put it on the stove one part brown rice with five parts water and simmer until you have a porridge to the consistency that you want. Season with salt, vegies, meat, fish, etc.

                  As a Minnesotan, I do get my share of wild rice to satisfy that crave for a heartier rice dish.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Yukari

                    Any particular type of brown rice for the porridge? I've tried it with long grain and it never seems to get porridge-like.

                    1. re: JRL

                      You may want to check the thread on jook below.

                      1. re: JRL

                        I use Japanese unmilled brown rice and add a bit of white. Soaking the brown rice helps. Also, sometimes add barley, millet, amarinth, etc.

                        1. re: Yukari

                          Thanks - will have to try it. Like the idea of adding barley, too.

                    2. My mom cooks big batches in a pressure cooker and then refrigerates/freezes in single serve containers. Seems to work for her.

                      1. I too , have switched to brown rice.
                        You need to experiment, and anyway that you find easiest would be best for you, I know people who love their rice cooker, and people who love their TJ's pre-cooked.
                        Because there are many different types of brown rice, thin basmatti to fat short grain, no one rule applies, but this is what I have found is quick easy, and most of the time results in tender not sticky rice.
                        By the way, I hate the California Brown long grain that comes from Trader Joes. It has a slight green cast to the grains, and I have never been able to get it to cook properly, unlike the Brown Thai Jasmine rice which I love.
                        OK here's what I do, first rinse the rice well in a sieve. Take a heavy sauce pan and add a tiny bit of hi temp oil, olive or sunflower or butter. Heat the pan med hi and add the rice, it will sizzle and sputter, stir with a wooden spoon and continue to saute till it starts to smell a bit toasty. Then add water. For short grain 2to1 water to rice, for long grain 1.5 to1. bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook till the water is gone...and this will depend on the rice and on your flame, from 15 to 30 minutes. Most often I am in the kitchen and listen for the slight sizzle sound which means the water is gone, Of course I also like a slightly toasty crust of rice..yum..but to some people this might be a no no.
                        As you find the brand of rice you prefer, then take note of how much water to add and how long to cook. As you make it with more regularity you will find it is very easy to get the rice right, and even to make adjustments, such as adding more water if the pan dries too soon and the rice is not yet tender, and it will work out well.

                        1. i've been making brown rice for years in a pot with never a problem. i use a ratio of about 1.75 cups of water to 1 cup of rice (basically a little less than 2 to 1). put water and rice together in a small pot, bring to a boil. when it comes to a boil stir quickly with a fork, clap on the lid, and turn the burner down to the absolute lowest it can go. DO NOT LIFT THE LID for 40 minutes. whatever you do, do not lift it part way through "just to check." you might have to experiment a little with the water to rice ratio to find the consistency you prefer. i have found that the greatest variation is in the rice itself, so you might want to experiment with that. personally, although i like long-grain white rices (basmati, jasmine) i prefer short grain brown rice, especially the lundberg organic.

                          1. s

                            I cook my brown rice in an Ohsawa pot within a pressure cooker. Use a 1 to 1 water/rice ratio + plus salt inside the pot. Then fill the pressure cooker with water about 2 inches.

                            Place on high until the pressure cooker makes its sound or pushes up the button to the maximum. Then simmer about 45 minutes.

                            This make the best brown rice I've ever tasted.

                            The small pot is a good one to start off with. I learned about this method in my macrobiotic cooking classes in the 80's.

                            Link: http://www.wisementrading.com/cooking...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: shoo-bee-doo

                              Wow! And here I thought I was a master of all cooking. What a great idea - Oshawa pots....a tad pricy but maybe they have them on ebay. Yeah, right.

                              1. re: shoo-bee-doo

                                I use a similar method from a Lorna Sass cookbook. No fancy pot, just a souffle dish. Makes excellent brown rice.

                                Link: http://www.fatfree.com/recipes/rice/p...

                              2. Years ago, I had a bag of store-brand brown rice that had microwave cooking instructions on it which made all the difference for me. I use a ceramic dish with a glass lid. Add rice and boiling water to container with salt and a little butter, if desired, and microwave for 30 minutes or so. Let stand a few minutes before serving.

                                As mentioned below, different grains cook up differently. I've had the best success with this method using the short grain rice; the longer grain needs more water and more time.

                                I have a rice cooker, but I dislike cleaning it up. This method means I don't have to worry about forgetting about it on the stove.