Brown rice is a healthy alternative to white rice, but it takes a little bit longer to cook, and you'll need slightly more liquid.
Brown rice is a less-processed form of rice, which means the grains still have the outer layer of bran on them. The bran is what gives the rice its brown color, and it contains nutrients that plain white rice doesn't, since processing white rice is mainly a matter of stripping off the bran. This outer layer is what makes brown rice cook more slowly.
Because it takers extra time, you need to use extra water, mostly to account for increased evaporation due to the longer cooking time. Here's how to do it:
Cooking Brown Rice
- Start with one cup of uncooked brown rice. This will be enough for four regular servings.
- In a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom and a tight-fitting lid, combine the brown rice and 1 3/4 cups of water or stock. Chicken stock or vegetable stock are good for cooking rice. Also add 1/2 tbsp. of butter and 1 tsp. of Kosher salt. If you're cooking your rice with stock instead of water, you might want to use less salt (or none at all) depending on how salty your stock is.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, give everything a stir with a wooden spoon, then cover the pot tightly and reduce the heat to very low. Cook for 40 to 50 minutes. The cooking time can vary depending on the brand of rice you're using, how heavy your lid is, and so on. That's right, a heavier lid holds in more liquid and thus increases the cooking time.
- Test to see if the rice done enough. If it isn't, you can cook it for another couple of minutes.
- When the rice is cooked, fluff it with a fork to release the steam. The reason we do this is that the steam that builds up in the pot can continue cooking the rice and make it too soft.
Cooking Brown Rice in the Oven
Because it spends more time over the heat, brown rice is more susceptible to burning at the bottom of the pan. One way to prevent this is by cooking it in the oven instead of the stovetop.
You'll need a pot that can be used both on the stovetop and the oven. The amount of rice (1 cup) and water or stock (1 3/4 cups) stays the same, as do the salt and butter as listed above.
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Combine all the ingredients in your pot on the stovetop and bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, cover it and transfer it to the oven, where it will cook for one hour. Test and adjust cooking time as above.
This technique cooks the rice more evenly, since the heat is conducted from all around the pot rather than from directly below, so it won't burn or stick to the bottom.
You can also use brown rice for making a pilaf using the oven instructions above. The only difference is that you'll start by sautéeing some diced onion and celery in a small amount of oil, and then add the uncooked rice to the pan and sauté it for another minute or so, until it gives off a lovely nutty aroma. Then add your hot liquid and continue as described above.