Plain cooked rice is the little black dress of the food world, a side dish or ingredient that's appropriate for just about any occasion. That doesn't mean it's your only, or best, alternative at every meal. You can add flavor to your rice by changing the cooking liquid from plain water to your choice of broth. For example, if you've recently baked or boiled a ham, you can use the ham juice to cook your rice.
Measure enough uncooked rice to feed your family. One cup of uncooked rice usually yields three cups of cooked rice, at a half cup to one cup per person, depending on appetite.
Pour off the juices or broth from your baked or boiled ham. Refrigerate the ham liquid if you have time. This causes the fat to rise and congeal at the top, making it easier to remove. If you need to cook your rice right away, use a spoon or ladle to remove as much fat as you can.
Measure enough broth or drippings to cook your rice. Long-grain rice requires 2 cups of liquid for 1 cup of rice, though other kinds of rice can require more. Consult the rice package's directions for exact proportions as needed. Drippings from a baked ham can be very salty and concentrated, so dilute them half-and-half with water.
Combine the broth and rice in a pot with a tight-fitting lid, and bring them to a simmer. Stir the rice once, then cover it and reduce your stove heat close to its lowest setting, so that the rice is barely simmering. Cook long-grain rice for 20 minutes and set it aside. Give it five minutes to rest. Other kinds of rice, such as brown rice, take longer to cook.
Remove the lid from your rice pot, and let the steam escape for another three or four minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.
- Professional Cooking; Wayne Gisslen
- The Cook's Thesaurus: Rice
Fred Decker is a trained chef and certified food-safety trainer. Decker wrote for the Saint John, New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal, and has been published in Canada's Hospitality and Foodservice magazine. He's held positions selling computers, insurance and mutual funds, and was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology.