Wild rice is not actually rice but rather a grain that is a member of the grass family. It is native to North America and grows mostly in the Great Lakes region. Wild rice is high in protein and low in fat. In terms of vitamins, it compares favorably with wheat. If you're interested in the nutritional benefits of wild rice but have ended up with a soggy mess when you cooked it on the stove top, try cooking it in the oven. Baking wild rice is a nearly fool-proof method.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wash the rice thoroughly. Pick through it and remove any foreign objects and discolored grains.
Put the rice in the casserole. Add 2 1/2 c. water. Cover the casserole and put it on the center rack in the oven.
Bake for one hour. Check the rice and add water if the rice is nearly dry but still uncooked. Fluff with a fork. Replace the cover and bake for another 1/2 hour.
Check the rice. It should be tender but not mushy. The grains should be splitting open but not so soft that they are beginning to disintegrate. Remove the dish from the oven. Drain if necessary and fluff the wild rice with a fork before serving.
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- Freeze cooked wild rice in containers for later use.
- If you plan to serve the wild rice as a side dish, replace half the water with broth and add herbs of your choice. If you plan to use the rice in a recipe, cook it in water.
- Cultivated wild rice and wild-harvested wild rice differ in taste, texture and moisture content. Some people prefer the stronger taste of wild-harvested wild rice. Others prefer the milder, slightly nutty flavor of cultivated wild rice. If you want the wild-grown rice, you will almost certainly need to pay a premium for it.
- Wild rice is not uniform from one bag to the next. Water amounts and cooking time will vary, so watch your wild rice carefully as it bakes.
Susan Peterson is the author of five books, including "Western Herbs for Martial Artists and Contact Athletes" and "Clare: A Novel." She holds a Ph.D. in text theory from the University of Texas at Arlington and is an avid cook and gardener.
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