The year finally turned: what a relief! December was a wild, whacky month, packed full of stuff you really never want to do in December. Like replacing your roof. And snaking (and rinsing out – ew) the main pipe that serves the kitchen sink and garbage disposal, just days before Christmas.
I’m not a fan of snow to begin with, but if there was ever a time to hate snow, December was it. Getting up in the morning to find snow on the roof meant yet another day’s delay of finishing the roof saga. And then it would rain, melting the snow, but causing more leaks that prompted the untimely roof repair in the first place.
And this pattern repeated over and over again. [Sigh.]
But all of that is past now, as is, I’m happy to say, autumn’s decadent foods. I had been as enthusiastic as the next girl for autumn baking and comfort food, but my max fill line was reached before the end of November. I felt decidedly out of the cool-kid crowd when December’s food blog flood of rich desserts and treats hit my inbox and Pinterest feed. Yuck. Just wasn’t feeling it this time around.
But now we’re officially in January, and I can post about something as plain-jane as brown rice without feeling like the misfit in the room. I’m actually pretty excited about my winter line-up of recipes. If you’re as done with the holiday food goo as I am, stay tuned: healthy and delicious is the theme of the month.
But first we start with one of my favorite foundations: the humble brown rice. I’ve switched over completely from white, largely because I prefer the flavor. I’m one of those people who actually likes whole wheat bread, so it makes perfect sense that I would also favor the nutty goodness of brown rice.
I go through a lot of brown rice, so I’ve had a lot of practice, tweaking and refining the stovetop method. The instructions on most packaging create, in my opinion, a pot full of sloppy mush (50 minutes of active simmering? Really?) I like firm, al dente grains, glossy and plump, thank you very much. That means a shorter, gentler, turn on the stove, incorporating some steam-time, which works so well with rice.
My go-to preparation also involves a healthy infusion of herbs — usually cilantro, but since I still have flat-leaf parsley growing in my winter garden, it’s a frequent stand-in for last-minute preparations. Herbed rice goes swimmingly with just about every recipe in my repertoire. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.
(Speaking of swimming … just before the end of the year, I spied racks and racks of swim suits at Target. I couldn’t find a single replacement winter hat for the one I lost, but, there were loads of bikinis. It’s currently -1°F here. I can’t even wrap my mind around a bare midriff. Seriously. Just, no.)
Anyway … the photos in this post show short-grained brown rice (i.e., the whole grain version of risotto rice, my current favorite), but this procedure works for most whole grain rices, including the standard long grain brown rice and even wild rice blends.
Also note that some — but not all — package directions call for a 2 to 1 ratio of water to rice. That’s waaay too much water, which, when coupled with overcooking … well, Mush City. 1 3/4 cups of water to 1 cup of rice will do just fine for about 4 servings.
Yeah, 3/4ths is an annoying fraction to deal with when you’re scaling up or down, but just do your best, and keep the ratio below 2:1.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet:
To double the servings:
3 1/2 cups of water to 2 cups of rice (that’s easy-peasy!)
To halve the servings:
Measure one cup of water, then spoon out and discard 2 tablespoons, to 1/2 cup of rice (not too bad!)
- coconut oil, butter or ghee
- 1 cup of rice
- 1 3/4 cups of water (substitute part of the water for stock, for extra flavor)
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro (optional)
- Heat the oil, butter, or ghee in a medium lidded pot over medium-high until shimmering. Rinse the rice in a fine sieve, then add to the pot. Saute the rice grains in the fat until the grains are glossy. Add the water, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain an active simmer. Cover, and cook for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat, and leave the pot to sit on the cooling burner (still covered) for 15 minutes (steam will finish cooking the rice). Uncover, add a pat of coconut oil, butter or ghee, and plus the optional chopped herbs. Stir gently until the fat is melted and well-distributed.
- Do ahead: Pack extras into freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. Or refrigerate for a couple of days.