With Fall just kicking in and the nights getting longer (and the weather getting colder) my thoughts have been turning to hearty, warming foods that are easy and quick to make. That’s why I’ve decided to share one of my favorite Fall dishes with you – Almond rice!
Before we dive on, though, I thought I would share a few nuggets of information regarding the rice itself. It’s just rice – correct? Well, no.
Choose Your Rice Well
Ask any chef and they will probably confirm that when you are cooking rice, the size of the grain is the most important thing that affects the taste and texture of the dish. With thousands of varieties of rice found all over the world and each having its own distinct flavors and aromas, choosing the right variety for your dish can be a problem.
What Is Long Grain Rice?
Long-grain rice is so-called because the grains are usually four to five times as long as they are wide. It is typically dry and fluffy after it is cooked and the grains do not clump. Some varieties of long-grain rice are Basmati (aromatic with a rich, nutty flavor this variety is used a lot in Indian cooking), brown long-grain rice (the husk is removed with a nutritious bran layer, it’s slightly chewy with a mild nutty flavor), or white or polished long-grain rice (this is the most widely used and has a beautiful mild flavor). Uses for long-grain rice mainly are steamed, baked, pilaf, and a rice salad.
What Is Short Grain Rice?
Short-grain rice has an almost round shape and is very starchy which means it tends to stick together after it has been cooked. It’s sometimes known as “sticky-rice”. Examples of short-grain rice are Arborio rice (which adds a lovely creamy texture to dishes) and glutinous or sweet rice (which is very sticky after cooking and is used in lot of Asian desserts and snacks). Short-grain rice is great for puddings, risotto, croquettes, sushi, stir-fried rice, and molded rice dishes.
Medium Grain Rice?
Of course, with long grain and short grain available it should come as no surprise that you also get medium grain rice. Medium-grain rice has a size smaller grain than long-grain and bigger than short-grain (who’d have thought eh?) thus the name medium-grain rice. It is more tender than long grain rice and less moist than short-grain rice. So, basically it sits in the middle. It is typically fluffy and separates well when served hot but starts to clump as it cools.
How To Cook Rice
Of course, the method of cooking rice depends largely on the variety chosen but and good rice cooker will be able to sort out the differences between the varieties and offer you a consistent set of results. My Zojirushi rice cooker has a huge number of pre-defined cooking settings for almost every kind of rice available meaning that its literally, just case of pressing the button and letting it do its stuff.
But, if you are a good cook (does that mean I’m not ? lol) you should take some time to understand the different ways of cooking rice so that you can tailor your method to get the right end-results. Here are the most common ways to cook rice – if you know of any others then I would love to hear them so please get in touch.
Steam Rice: measure the recommended amount of water and salt for the type of rice you are cooking – this is usually found on the box or bag. I like to mix the salt and water together in a dish before pouring it into the saucepan or rice cooker and then you should bring the combination to a boil. Add the rice to the boiling salted water and stir.
Once the rice has cooked, you then need to bring the water to a boil again then cover the saucepan or rice cooker so that you steam the rice on a very low heat until the rice has soaked in all the salted water and is nice and tender.
This process normally takes 15 to 18 minutes for white rice and 35 to 40 minutes for brown rice. Remove the pan from the heat and let it set for about 5 minutes.
Sauté Rice (pilaf): Measure some salt and water as you would for steamed rice above and bring to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil heat oil or butter in a saucepan at a medium heat. You can also use a mixture of the two. Add the rice to the molten butter or what have you and mix till the rice is fully coated.
Sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, constantly mixing in a consistent manner. Now, add the salted water you have been boiling to the sautéed rice and bring the mixture to a boil. Again, steam the rice by putting a lid on the pan or cooker, turn the heat down as low as you can and wait till the rice has soaked in all the water and has become plump and tender.
Baked Rice: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Boil some salted water and whle its getting up to speed add your rice to a baking dish. When the water is boiled, add it to the rice in the baking dish. Cover the dish tightly for baking efficiency, and safety when removing the dish from the oven.
I like to use normal every day tin foil and a dish with an oven safe lid – then bake at the preheated temperature until the rice has absorbed the water and is nice and tender. White rice takes about 20 to 30 minutes, while brown rice takes any where from 35 to 45 minutes. Baking times differ depending on your oven, and how tightly sealed your dish is.
Ok, so now we know all about rice and how to cook it, lets get on with the business of cooking some delicious almond Rice
My Almond Rice Recipe
- 4 cups rice (Long Grain)
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 4 Tbl parsley (substitute rosemary, sage, tarragon, or thyme, to taste of course)
- 1 œ cup celery. chopped fine
- 1 œ cup onion, chopped fine OR Ÿ cup minced dried onion
- 1 cup slivered almonds
Sauté some onion and celery in just enough water to cover.
Add 8 cups of chicken broth and add your rice
Bring the mixture to a boil gently reducing the heat and then let it steam about 20 minutes.
Once cooked, open your rice cooker lid and let the mixture continue to cook – while stirring it – until all of the liquid is gone.
Just before serving, add some parsley and 1 cup of slivered almonds. If you used dried parsley, add it while there is still a little water in the pan.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoy this recipe. Please check back for more like it and remember to grab some bargains on a new rice cooker.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this post and, if you would like to find out more great ways to use your rice cooker, I have posts covering how to cook pasta, fish, or even lentils. Who knew that a rice cooker could be so versatile ?!