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What NOT to do with brown rice....

I have been happily using the Cook's Illustrated method of cooking brown rice in the oven for quite a while now with usually spectacular results but the other night, pressed for time, I thought "wonder if it would work in the microwave?". The answer is a resounding 'NO!'

It literally took twice as long and twice as much water in the microwave. The rice was good when it came out (a bit more sticky which I like) but not even remotely worth it.

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  1. Have you tried a rice cooker? I make brown rice in mine all the time and it comes out perfectly every time. It only takes about 40 minutes and you can do other things while it's cooking and not worry about it. My rice cooker does 10 cups and only cost about $20 at kMart, and it's honestly the best $20 I've ever spent.

    3 Replies
    1. re: AmyH

      In a standard non-fuzzy-logic rice cooker, what ration of water to brown rice do you use? I've been having problems w/brown rice in the cooker.

      1. re: litchick

        Oh my, I have no idea about fuzzy logic. I just bought a cheap rice cooker. THe instructions didn't say how much water to use, but to use more than the standard ratio for white rice (which is 1 1/4 cups water to each cup of rice). So I usually throw in that much water and then add another 1/4 cup or so of water per cup of rice. It's always come out good that way.

        1. re: litchick

          I've had very good luck with 1 to 1 and add an additional 3/4 c. water. its a fuzzy logic cooker though but i imagine the ratio should be about the same. It will all depend how much water excapes as steam.

      2. A heads up on the rice cooker--if you buy a fuzzy logic one the brown rice cycle will typically take longer than 40 minutes. (It sounds like AmyH has a standard RC, not a fuzzy logic one?) In my Sanyo, it is very much worth the wait, and well over an hour. Perfect brown rice. The oven method works great if you don't have a RC, though.

        1. Thanks for the advice but in a tiny NY kitchen there's no room for another gagdet. The oven method really is brilliant and easy.

          1. Pressed for time. Aren't we all? Brown rice freezes great!
            I always cook extra and keep it on hand in a ziplock for when I need just one serving in a hurry. The frozen chunk or loose grains from the freezer steam right back in the microwave in a minute or so.
            And I'm with you, krissywats! There's a moratorium on appliances in my kitchen.

            2 Replies
            1. re: MakingSense

              Actually, because I'm a lazy slob, I buy my brown rice frozen and chuck it in the microwave. I've found one brand that's really great--they stock it at whole foods but it is not the whole foods brand (their frozen brown rice is not that great). Nice in a pinch.

              1. re: Heatherb

                Trader Joe's sells this too. It's become a staple in my kitchen.

            2. Yup on baking
              Yup on freezing

              in case you're wondering though, brown rice does not keep in the fridge for a week (it won't kill you, but it won't be fun either).

              freeze it, makingsense is making sense

              if you double your baked rice recipe and replace the second half of the rice with brown/green lentils, it's super-yummy and more substantial, and a good protein replacement.

              1. What’s so difficult about cooking it on the stovetop? I mix a cup of brown rice, two cups of water, a cube of vegetable or chicken stock, a large pinch of red pepper flakes, and two bay leaves in a heavy pot. Bring it to a furious boil over high heat for about a minute or two, then cover and reduce heat and it’ll be done before you know it.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Mrs.Keenlyside

                  Sure - did that for years - but telling you the oven method is far superior, IMO - the rice just comes out perfect every time.

                  The 2:1 ratio is often a little off, too - according to the CI testing it's more like a 2 1/3:1 that works best.

                  Anyway - if it works for you great. The oven method is just as easy, just was looking to save time and whooooops - how wrong!

                  Thanks for the recs, I have frozen rice before but always forget to make a double batch. (I freeze whole wheat pasta too - comes out great!)

                  1. re: krissywats

                    Can you provide details on the oven method? What temp? How long? Covered or Un? It sounds soooo good....

                    1. re: fauchon

                      I used this recipe. It can be doubled & tripled. If you replace one portion of rice with green lentils (which is delicious)give it an extra half a cup of liquid and an extra 10 minutes in the oven


                      1. re: fauchon

                        I use the following Cook's Illustrated method:

                        1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice or medium-grain brown rice, or short-grain brown rice
                        2 1/3 cups water
                        2 teaspoons unsalted butter or vegetable oil
                        1/2 teaspoon table salt

                        Bring the water and oil to a boil and immediately at the salt and pour it over the rice in a casserole dish. Cover tightly with double layer of foil and put in a preheated 375 degree oven for one hour. Immediately take it out of the oven, fluff it with a fork, cover with a towel for five minutes.

                        I sometimes subsitute chicken broth but here is my FAVORITE variation from CI:

                        Lemon parmesan rice
                        2 tablespoons unsalted butter
                        1 small onion minced
                        1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice or medium-grain brown rice, or short-grain brown rice
                        2 1/3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
                        1/8 teaspoon table salt
                        1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
                        1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
                        1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
                        1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
                        1 teaspoon lemon zest
                        1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

                        Saute the onion in the butter and boil the broth. Add both to the rice in the casserole dish and cook as instructed above. Then add all the rest after it comes out of the oven. It's really lovely.

                        Good luck!

                  2. Bah. Just don't eat brown rice.

                    (I know, I should like it, it's good for me and all that, but anytime I've had it, I just can't get over the texture). I just eat rice less often, but it's always either basmati or jasmine rice. Yum.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: mrbunsrocks

                      Well, if one is looking for fiber and knows how to make it - it's fantastic. I actually prefer brown rice. Better for me too - which is what I'm looking for.

                      1. re: mrbunsrocks

                        you might consider trying a brown jasmine or basmati. they still have the wonderful flavor. I used to hate brown rice when my mom used to mix it half and half with white rice until i recently discovered that the reason i hated brown rice was that it was never cooked properly. I still can't convince her to stop mixing her brown and white. heh.

                        1. re: mrbunsrocks

                          Don't eat brown rice or any particular food item because "it's good for you." Food isn't medicine. It's for pleasure. The tiny bit of fiber in a normal serving of brown rice doesn't add up to much in a normal diet. You can get plenty elsewhere.
                          I was put off the stuff for years by all my friends who served awful brown rice when they were into zen macrobiotics. Ick. But after buying better quality and learning to cook to cook it properly, I've become a convert. I still use white rice for some things, but brown works better for others.

                          1. re: MakingSense

                            Easy for you to say, but borderline Type 2 diabetes has me under strict orders to all but eliminate white rice (and potatoes, and eighty other things I adore) from my diet...so even though I'm very much in the Live To Eat camp I'm faced with either brown rice or NO rice. Good thing I like it!

                            1. re: Will Owen

                              My sympathies, Will. I usually eat brown by choice but I hate restrictions. They're no fun.
                              I've never been able to figure this out though. Brown rice is raw rice with the husk removed. OK, healthy.
                              If you keep processing and take away the bran, you have white rice. Less healthy because you take away the bran.
                              But if you eat brown rice you're still eating nothing but white rice with a covering of bran.
                              So why is it OK?

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                I think the "germ" part of brown rice and whole grains slows down the conversion of starch to sugar in the human digestive system, thereby making it a healthier option for many people.

                                1. re: pikawicca

                                  Brown rice these days comes in many versions- Jasmine or Bashmati brown rice both have wonderful aromas and flavors.

                                  I am doing the whole grain thing to lose weight and get out of the pre-diabetic state. Eating food that is both flavorful and healthy these days.

                        2. I think that brown rice just has more flavor and more texture. When its done properly... with just a touch of salt and butter... boy, do I love it! I too, enjoy the frozen brown rice from Trader Joe's. It is the most brilliant convenience food (along with their frozen peas and frozen Orange Chicken... a delicious, simple, and relatively healthy meal done in minutes!)

                          However, I am totally intrigued with the oven method for cooking brown rice. I especially like the idea of combining it with green lentils... I will definitely try it! Thanks so much for all the wonderful suggestions and ideas.

                          Oh yeah, lest I forget... when I have leftover cooked brown rice, I sometimes make a delicious rice pudding by simmering it in some milk, sugar (or honey or maple syrup) and cinnamon, till it gets thick and creamy. No recipe needed, just wing it, it turns out great! You can also add raisins or currants or chopped dates... its up to your imagination!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: chemchef

                            On the leftover brown rice pudding, my experience is that you must use milk with some fat, not skim or 1%. The lower fat milks just won't thicken the pudding enough to make it a spoonable consistency, and it ends up being cooked rice in sweetened milk, sort of weird. I haven't experimented with adding butter or other fats to a lower fat milk, though. With half and half, brown rice pudding is divine!

                            1. re: amyzan

                              Anyone have a recipe for a chocolate brown rice pudding? Regular doesn't do it for me and I've never actually made rice pudding. Would love to know how to make it with brown rice and chocolate.