I'll bet I know what you're thinking. A post about BROWN RICE? How boring can she be?
Well, hear me out. Brown rice can be awful. The first brown rice I ever ate was cooked by my Aunt Mary, and as much as I hate to say anything negative about the dearly departed, it was ... er, not tasty. (Any family members who are reading this are probably ready to jump through the computer screen and wring my neck, because Aunt Mary was an amazing woman who we all adored.)
"You MUST eat my brown rice, because it's so good for you," she'd encourage, with her big, exuberant personality. "And it's so easy! You just put it on the stove and cook it forever!"
And oh my gosh did she ever. It was brown mush. And my biggest food issues have to do with things that have mushy textures. I so WANTED to love Aunt Mary's brown rice, because I loved her and wanted her to be happy, but I just couldn't choke down more than a mouthful.
I avoided the stuff for a decade or so, but the health benefits finally made me try to cook it for myself. And I didn't turn it into mush. No, I turned it into something that couldn't be chiseled off of the bottom of the pan.
And then I found quick-cooking brown rice, and that was my go-to when I was on a health kick. In fact, when I was concocting a recipe for a recipe contest a few years ago, I found that I actually preferred brown rice to white rice in a recipe that included collard greens. Whereas white rice made the dish taste bland, the nutty flavor of the brown rice complemented the strong flavor of the collard greens. (The resulting recipe got me to the Southern Living cookoff in 2006.)
Last night, I found myself with an unexpected bag of regular brown rice that a friend had brought over. I wasn't keen on ruining another pan, so I turned to my cookbook collection and found the perfect solution. Put it in a baking pan, dump on some boiling water, cover, and bake for an hour. Not only was it easy, the texture was nice and fluffy. No sign of mush anywhere. A side dish that's healthy, yummy and easy -- how could that be boring?!
Oven-Baked Brown Rice
Makes 4 cups
A ceramic baking dish with a lid may be used instead of the baking dish and foil. To double the recipe, use a 13 by 9-inch baking dish; do not increase the baking time.
1 1/2 cups long-, medium- or short-grain brown rice
2 1/3 cups water
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread rice in 8-inch square baking dish.
2. Bring water and butter to boil, covered, in medium saucepan over high heat; once boiling, immediately stir in salt and pour water over rice. Cover baking dish tightly with doubled layer of foil. Bake rice 1 hour, until tender. Keep covered until ready to serve (up to 15 minutes or so). When ready to serve, fluff rice with a fork.