Baked Rice

Rice has always been a mystery to me, probably because I grew up in the Uncle Ben's (magical) rice in a bag era. My mother was never happier to teach me how to fill a small pot with water, bring it to a boil, add the bag of white minute rice, cook 10 minutes, cut open bag (careful of the steam) and dump into a bowl. This process, as with various 80s cooking breakthroughs, was quick and easy, more expensive than buying rice in bulk (where would we have done that, anyway?) or even 45-60 minute rice in the box, yet lacked the ever important characteristic, taste.

I gave up boil-in-bag rice circa 2000. Regrets? No. Wasted rice? Absolutely, back in the cooking disaster days. But I pushed on and today am proud to share this recipe that I've made three times and counting. Enjoy.

Adapted from Cook's Illustrated's Oven-Baked Rice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Lightly oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish with about 1/4 teaspoon vegetable or extra virgin olive oil. Then pour in and spread out:
  • 2 1/4 cups brown rice (any sized grain), I used Indian Brown Basmati

In a medium nonstick skillet heat over medium heat, until foaming:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Then add and cook 3 minutes:
  • 1 large onion, minced

Set aside onion, then bring to boil, covered, in medium saucepan over high heat:
  • 3 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

Immediately stir in:
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Pour broth over rice. Stir in onion mixture and cover baking dish tightly with doubled layer of foil. Bake rice 45 minutes and check. If liquid is absorbed it's done. If liquid is left return to oven 5-10 more minutes.

Remove baking dish from oven and uncover. Stir in:
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

I think this last part is optional, so taste the rice and decide what to add from the following list.
  • Herbs: 1/4 cup each, minced fresh parsley leaves and chopped fresh basil, OR 1 teaspoon each, dried oregano and thyme, OR 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan 
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • a few more pinches of salt

Cover dish with a clean kitchen towel; let rice stand 5 minutes. Uncover and let rice stand 5 minutes and serve.