Basic White Rice

When I was young, I always took “plain” white rice for granted because we ate it so often. But when I was a teenager and ate at friends’ houses I realized how awful rice can be if you don’t treat it right. There’s nothing easier and, in some ways, more satisfying than good white rice. Trust me on this one.
Makes 8 servings

  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 4 cups long grain white rice
  • Water or broth to cover the rice (about 5 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons salt

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven, or a smaller vessel with a heavy bottom, over medium-high heat. Add the rice and salt, stirring to coat the rice with oil. When the rice starts to appear opaque and chalky, add enough cold water to cover the rice by the width of two fingers (about one inch). Bring to a rapid boil, and boil—without stirring!—until the water level reaches the level of the rice.
Stir the rice once and reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot and cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid is absorbed, 20 minutes. Stir the rice gently from bottom to top to fluff it up and serve. Perfect rice!

Making Rice

I use long grain rice (like Carolina brand). Short grain rice has a different taste and texture; it is chewier. Some people rinse their rice one or more times before cooking it. I never do, and it seems to come out just fine. Storing rice is never an issue in our house; we go through it fast enough that it’s not a problem. If you’re keeping it, make sure it is in a cool place in a tightly covered container, like a large plastic storage container with a tight lid.
If you skim through these recipes, you’ll see different seasonings, but always the same techniques. Here they are in brief.
Cook the rice in oil over fairly high heat, with or without seasonings, until the rice turns chalky.
Pour in enough water or liquid to cover the rice by the width of two fingers (about 1 ¼ inches). I have never used the “two parts liquid to one part rice” rule and, until I wrote this book, never thought about it at all. The two finger rule always worked out. Turns out, when I started measuring things in the process of writing this book, I use a good deal less water than two times the amount of rice. I put quantities of water or broth in the recipes as a guideline only, the amount of liquid you will actually add depends on the size and shape of your pot. My favorite rice pot holds 6 quarts and measures about 10 inches wide by 4 inches high—yours can be any size, but it should hold the finished rice comfortably and should be wider than it is tall.
Bring the liquid to a boil and boil until the level of liquid meets the top of the rice.
Give the rice a big stir, lower the heat to low and cover the pot.
Set the timer to 20 minutes and walk away. Do not uncover, think about or, most definitely, stir the rice.
Uncover and fluff. You can leave the rice covered in a heavy pot and it will stay hot and in good shape for about an hour.
To reheat rice that’s been refrigerated I prefer the microwave. Put the rice in a bowl, sprinkle a little water over the top, cover the bowl with plastic and cook until hot. You may also reheat rice in a skillet with a tight fitting lid. Add a couple of tablespoons of liquid and cook over very low heat until hot.

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