Barbara Bennett Parsons — Perfect rice, perfectly simple


Meet my good friend, Rice. Rice and I haven’t always been best buddies, but now we can’t seem to get enough of each other. I wanted to like Rice, but it seemed to never want to hang out with me. Instead, it could only be found in restaurants, which seemed sort of rude. I mean, if you can’t be bothered to come into a person’s home and have dinner, what sort of friendship is that?

So I began trying out different rice, hoping to find one that would stick. But not be all clingy and mushy. Oh, the rice that has come and gone in my life! Basmati, Arborio, Long rice, Short rice, Calrose, Brown rice, Black rice. Tried ‘em all. Like so many other relationships in life, it turns out that basic is best. Long-grain White Rice.

I can be a tad bit stubborn. It’s not like I didn’t know that there are electric rice cooking machines out there, but I refused to buy something to cook a food that I should be able to come to terms with on my own. You may have noticed that the recipe they print on the back of the rice package always has the same basic formula, calling for 1 part rice to two parts water, a bit of salt, and sometimes a dash of oil.

So here’s the bottom line; they lied! I don’t understand why they lied, but lie they did. It’s been a conspiracy of lies. Is this some evil ploy to make us home cooks give up and go to a restaurant in order to find good cooked rice? I’m here to break the silence. Like all the other conspiracy busters, I refuse to stay silent when American homes are living with deceit at the hands of rice gang lords.

The Perfect Pot of Rice, courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine

One cup of long grain white rice — no other kind!

One half tsp of salt

One & one quarter cups of water.

Combine in a heavy 3 quart saucepan, Swirl the pan to blend — Do Not Stir!

Bring this to a boil, then cover with a tight fitting lid and reduce the heat to low. Aim for the tiniest bit of simmer. Cook for 18 minutes without removing the lid.

Remove pan from heat. Uncover. Place a kitchen towel over the rice, then put the lid back on. This keeps the moisture from dripping back into the rice. Let the rice stand for 10-15 minutes to firm up. Fluff with a fork before serving and be prepared to receive the compliments.

I couldn’t stop myself from jumping around the kitchen in jubilation the first time that perfect cooked rice from my stove top. In the old days of bad rice, I would quickly spoon the sauce of whatever dish I was serving over the rice, trying to disguise the embarrassing lump that was congealing on the dinner plate.

Now that my rice is pretty, I can serve it plain with a pat of butter. This is my favorite way to enjoy rice. OK, so I use more than one pat of butter. It slowly melts over the perfect rice, dribbling its way slowly downward, glazing each kernel with a glistening of butter. This is comfort food at its best, and pretty darned healthy too.

So many people are trying to eliminate gluten from their diets, and rice is one of the most easily digestible super foods available. You may want to double your recipe and make a batch of Rice Pudding. In researching recipes, just in case the old Joy of Cooking recipe could be improved upon, I discovered that some people actually chill Rice Pudding before serving! Good heavens! Don’t they know that having a big steaming scoop right from the dish is the only way to eat Rice Pudding? If there’s any left over, sure, you have to put it in the refrigerator. But even then it’s best when reheated. As it happens, rice is one of those great foods that reheats beautifully in the microwave.

Barbara Bennett Parsons, solving pesky problems one at a time.

Barbara Bennett Parsons is the manager of the Grays Harbor Farmers Market in Hoquiam.