Which Method of Cooking Brown Rice Is The Best

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rice_cIt's not fair to ask brown rice to be white rice. Let brown rice be itself -- a chewy, nutty, highly nutritious whole grain with a personality of its own -- and save yourself the disappointment. We'll give you some tips and show you several advantages of cooking brown rice in the oven.

Q . What method can I use to prepare brown rice so that it will be tender and fluffy? When I cook it, it always comes out very sticky.

A . Tender and fluffy might be asking a little too much of brown rice. Each and every rice kernel in your pot is encased in a straitjacket of rice bran. There's simply not much room for expansion in there.

It's not fair to ask brown rice to be white rice. Let brown rice be itself -- a chewy, nutty, highly nutritious whole grain with a personality of its own -- and save yourself the disappointment.

That doesn't mean you need to settle for the sticky, glutinous rice you've been turning out. There is a relatively foolproof way of dealing with this recalcitrant grain, and that's the oven. Cooking brown rice in the oven offers several advantages over the stovetop:

  • It cooks more gently and evenly by enveloping the rice pot in heat rather than cooking through direct contact with the heat source.
  • It frees you of the need to watch the pot, adjust the heat or worry about precise timing.
  • And it turns burned rice -- and all that attendant pot scrubbing -- into a distant, if unpleasant, memory.

The oven won't speed things up; brown rice is not going to adapt itself to your schedule. But it will leave you free to go about your business.

So here's the method for 1 cup of rice:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 cup rice, salt and, if you like, some butter or vegetable oil. Stir well and transfer the saucepan to the middle rack of the oven. Go about your business for an hour or so. Remove rice from the oven, uncover and fluff with a fork. Let rice sit uncovered for a few minutes to allow excess moisture to evaporate. Serve.

Q . I did a recipe for brunch that called for "grated ricotta salata" and I have yet to figure out what this is. I know what ricotta cheese is but it's soft, so I used grated Parmesan instead. Do you know what this is?

A . "Ricotta" in Italian just means "recooked." Ricotta salata is a pressed, firm, salty sheep's-milk cheese, which is just like soft ricotta, except it's been salted and dried.

If you can't find it, feta makes a good substitute. Sometimes feta is dry. If so it's best to soak it in cold water for an hour to approximate the texture of ricotta salata.


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