White Rice

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 20 to 30 minutes

There are several ways to cook rice, and all of them get the job done. Unfortunately, the most commonly taught method in which rice is brought to a boil with one-and-a-half times its volume of water, covered, and cooked for 15 to 17 minutes is probably the trickiest, the one that takes the most judgment and offers the least flexibility. Far easier and more reliable is the method described here, which will work well for any kind of white rice at all.

You can cook rice ahead, but not that far; 30 minutes is stretching it. Keep it warm over the lowest heat possible, or wrap the pot in a towel.

It’s almost as easy to make pilafs and other slightly more sophisticated rice dishes as it is to make basic rice, but sometimes this is what you’re looking for. Even so, it is, like all grains, vastly better when made with stock or other liquid.

Needless to say, white rice can be served with almost anything, but if you’re looking to make it the base for another dish, see the stir-fries.

11/2 cups white rice

Large pinch salt

Put the rice in a small saucepan with water to cover by about 1 inch. Add the salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then adjust the heat so the mixture boils steadily but not violently. When small craters appear, lower the heat a bit more and, when all visible moisture disappears, turn off the heat entirely this will be 10 to 15 minutes after you started.

At this point you can serve the rice (it will be moist but fine) or cover it, with the heat off or at an absolute minimum, and let it sit for 15 or even 30 minutes, during which time it will become a bit drier.

Variation

White Rice in the Microwave. Easy enough, especially for two servings: Put 1 cup white rice in a 1-quart measure or bowl and add a large pinch of salt and 11/2 cups water. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and cut a slit in the top of the wrap. Microwave for 121/2 minutes, or until done, then let sit for 5 minutes or so before serving.

14 Thirty-second Ways to Jazz Up Plain Rice

  1. Stir in a tablespoon or more butter.
  2. Stir in a tablespoon or more extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Drizzle with soy sauce.
  4. Add lots of black pepper.
  5. Stir in a couple tablespoons minced herbs.
  6. Stir in a tablespoon or two minced garlic or chopped onion lightly cooked in olive oil or butter.
  7. Top with shredded or minced scallion or shallot.
  8. Stir in a teaspoon or more just a suspicion vinegar.
  9. Add lemon juice to taste (great with butter and black pepper).
  10. Mix in 1/2 cup or so grated or crumbled cheese, from mild to strong.
  11. Mix in 1/2 to 1 cup cooked beans, with some of their liquid.
  12. Top with a bit of Fast Tomato Sauce.
  13. Stir in a tiny bit of ground cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and/or cloves exercise restraint and be sure to taste.
  14. Season with any spice mixture (to make your own, see Spice Mixtures).