How to make perfect brown rice
I was almost ready to give up on brown rice. It took practically forever to cook on the stovetop, and it always turned out crunchy or mushy or otherwise unappealing.
Good thing I consulted one of my favorite cookbooks, The New Best Recipe. They suggest using the oven to cook brown rice. Here's the method, with my adaptations. It might seem a bit long and complicated at first, but it's really not that difficult. Plan to start about 90 minutes before you want to eat dinner.
Oven-cooked brown rice
You'll need one of the following, in order of preference: (a) A lidded Dutch oven, (b) a heavy, lidded casserole dish, or (c) a lidless oven-proof cast iron, glass, or ceramic dish covered tightly with two layers of foil. If the lid to your Dutch oven or casserole dish doesn't fit tightly, consider using a layer of foil between the dish and the lid.
My first preference is for the Dutch oven. The cookbook suggests a glass baking dish covered with two layers of foil, but I get much better results in my 3-quart Dutch oven. You might need to experiment a little. I find that if there's too little in a dish, it needs slightly more water and less baking time to keep it from getting crunchy.
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Bring your water to a boil on the stove (amounts below). If you're using a stove-proof dish such as the Dutch oven, use it. If not, you'll need to use a different pot and transfer it to your baking dish in the next step.
2. If you're using a Dutch oven, add oil, salt, and rice to your water (the amounts on oil and salt are highly flexible, and I never measure). If you're using a casserole dish, add the rice, salt, and oil to the dish and then pour water over. Stir briefly if needed, cover tightly, and transfer to the oven.
3. Bake for one hour (check after 50 minutes if you are making one cup or less; likewise, if you're making a very large quantity or if you've added a lot of veggies, etc., it might take longer).
4. Remove from oven. Stir, taking care to incorporate the crispier rice from the edges into the middle. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes or more; the crispy rice will soften during this time.
1 cup rice, 1 1/2 cups water, 1 teaspoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups rice, 2 1/3 cups water, 2 teaspoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups rice, 3 cups water, 3 teaspoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups rice, 3 7/8 cups water, 3 teaspoons oil, 1 teaspoon salt
This will be much chewier than white rice—I'm finding white rice to be boring after eating brown for so many months.
If you like this recipe, I've come up with two other brown rice dishes using this method: Mexican brown rice and jambalaya.