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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Rice - My Cooking Nemesis

Everyone who cooks regardless of their experience or training will face a cooking nemesis.  The difference between a home cook and a professionally trained one is the professionally trained cook/chef is forced to cook the same dish over and over until they have it mastered to perfection.  The home cook has easy options to practicing a dish though so it is easy to never have to face your cooking nemesis.  My cooking nemesis is rice.

rice cooked in rice cooker
Rice is a staple in most pantries because it is a good value for your food dollar.  It can be enjoyed plain or seasoned as a side and there are a lot of easy recipes that using rice as an ingredient.  However, I cannot cook rice the way I would like to.  As a newlwed I used instant rice or Rice-a-Roni but then we bought our first microwave oven, I started experimenting with long grain rice.  It cooked the rice reasonably well but my gosh the spill over resulted in a huge mess every time.  I finally bought a rice maker.  I'm now on my second rice maker.  I make rice a couple of times a week and the consistent problem has been scorching.  It is the same problem I had trying to cook rice on an electric stove.

I developed several methods to deal with the scorching problem.  I've added butter, cooked in stock and unplugged the rice maker as soon as the rice was cooked.  Each time I carefully spoon out the unscorched rice then tossing the scorched rice but to me that was acceptable.  Finally as soon as the rice cooker clicked off, I removed the cooked rice and set it on a trivet then covered with a lid to keep warm until being served but there was still a bit of scorching.  A few days ago, it dawned on me that the problem with the rice scorching was the residual heat in the burner of the rice cooker or electric stovetop.  The natural gas stove removes this problem so I was on a mission to finally learn how to cook rice on the stovetop.

rice cooked on natural gas stovetop
I consulted my much used and beloved Betty Crocker's Cookbook (circa 1969).  There is a chart to refer to for the amount of rice you want to cook.  I used ⅓ c long grain white rice, ⅔ c water and ¼ tsp salt.  The instructions said to mix together in a sauce pan, bring to a boil then reduce to simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 14 minutes.   Once the rice is cooked, turn off the heat, fluff the rice, cover and let steam 5 to 10 minutes.

I am rather pleased and encouraged with my first test batch of cooking rice on the stovetop.  I experienced two minor problems but the rice was still nice and fluffy.  It has a nicer texture than rice cooked in the rice cooker.  First, there was a bit of spill over shortly after I put the lid on.  I'm still getting used to the settings on the gas stove so I had the burner turned too high.  Now I know to turn the burner down even further.  Second, there was a bit of sticking on the bottom of the pan.  It wasn't scorched, just sticking.  There wasn't as much wastage as there is using the rice cooker but still a bit of practice should solve that problem.  I used a stainless steel saucepan so worst case scenario I could buy a non-stick saucepan for cooking rice.  I prefer not to do this though so will be practicing cooking rice several times over the next few days.  This really is going to be an exercise in patience but I'm determined to master cooking rice on the stovetop!

2 food lovers commented:

LindaG said...

The best pan I ever cooked rice in was an old enamel pan that I finally had to toss because even though it wasn't 'teflon', it had a coating that started coming off.
And it would still occasionally stick to the bottom.

I think you don't have to have non-stick, just a heavy pan will work good. I have used enamel, but still get sticking on the bottom sometimes.

I always put butter in my rice, but you could probably use a little oil while cooking it.
As I said though it doesn't always keep the rice from sticking though.

Congratulations and good luck! :-)

LindaG said...

Actually, in the first sentence, I meant to type aluminum pan.

Sorry for the confusion in my mind. Haha! :)