After spending a couple of years living in a country where white rice is served on most days, I came home having had my true fill of it. I was totally out of reasons to eat rice, and knew I needed a break! However, rice is a delicious and totally versatile food. How to rekindle the magic? First, let a hefty amount of time pass. Then, set yourself up with a totally fool-proof, endlessly adaptable new rice-cooking method:
In 2009, The Wednesday Chef directed me to an (entertaining!) Francis Lam article where he briefly mentions baking his rice in the oven. This was total news to me, as I had always heard things like “put rice in the pan up to your first knuckle; put water in the pan up to your second knuckle.” This probably works great for most everyone. I, however, am rice-challenged, and knew that this oven method held promise.
This is my adaptation of the recipe, perfect for one serving of whatever you need rice for, and totally, endlessly customizable. Let’s talk for a second about options. For plain white rice, make this using water and a pinch of salt. For more flavor, try chicken, beef, or vegetable broth instead. To match an accompanying main dish, add a pinch of the matching herb: chicken broth + oregano, basil, or thyme; beef broth + rosemary; vegetable broth + cumin or coriander, or both. See? Fantastic!
As with all small-scale recipes, please measure carefully. When small amounts are involved, every bit makes a difference. This recipe uses the 6-inch cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush the inside of the pan with olive oil. Fill the oiled pan with the uncooked rice, spreading it evenly over the bottom of the pan.
Meanwhile, measure the water, and then bring it and the salt to a boil using your stove-top or microwave. Carefully add the boiling water to the rice pan, making sure all the rice grains are submerged. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Place the pan in the preheated oven, set the timer for 13 minutes, and walk away. Don’t open the oven until the timer rings.
After 13 minutes, remove the pan from the oven. Keep the foil in place, and allow the rice to rest for 5 additional minutes. Don’t skip this step! After 5 minutes, remove the foil, fluff the rice with a fork, and you are ready to go.
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