No-fail oven-steamed rice
FoodA winning formula

No-fail oven-steamed rice

A recipe that will yield consistent results regardless of the amount of rice that you’re making

No-fail oven-steamed rice (Photo by Jessica Grann)
No-fail oven-steamed rice (Photo by Jessica Grann)

It’s such a simple food, yet many home cooks struggle with making fluffy steamed rice. While it may not be difficult to cook one cup of rice on the stovetop, it can be harder to get good results when making larger batches.

My recipe for oven-steamed rice is a lifesaver. You will get consistent results regardless of the amount that you’re making — and you need not worry about scorched pans, gloppy messes or hard rice kernels.

The best part is that you put the rice in the oven, set the timer and forget about it.

This is sure to become a go-to recipe in your collection for weeknight dinners and for holiday crowds.

Here is the formula so you can make the amount you need and get tasty, flavorful rice again and again.

1 cup basmati rice
2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon olive oil

That seems simple, right? It truly is! If I’m having 10-12 people for a meal, I will make 3 cups of rice: so, 3 cups of rice, 6 cups of boiling water, 3 teaspoons of sea salt and 3 teaspoons of olive oil. You can double, triple or quadruple this recipe easily.

There are a few tricks to get the best results.

First, use basmati rice because it never fails. Rinse the rice in a strainer under cool water for about a minute before cooking. Rinsing rice gets rid of the extra starch that can make rice gloppy.

After rinsing, place the rice into a baking dish, and measure out and add the salt and olive oil. For one cup of rice, use an 8-inch-by-8-inch pan. For 2 cups of rice, a 9-inch-by-13-inch glass dish works well. When making more than 3 cups at a time, I’ve had great luck with disposable aluminum half pans. As a rule of thumb, the water should not rise more than halfway up the side of the pan. The rice needs room to expand while cooking, and there needs to be room for the steam to do its magic.

Before adding the boiling water, place a sheet pan or tray under the baking dish — especially if you’re using an aluminum pan. This will give the dish stability and save you from possible messes or burns.

Be sure that the water is just boiled, right out of the kettle. Measure the boiling hot water and pour it over the rice, stir and cover the baking dish with a double layer of foil. Instead of using two separate pieces of foil, cut one large piece and fold it in half. It helps if the piece of foil is on the larger side so that it comes at least halfway down the side of the pan when sealed.

Cover the baking dish and secure the foil around the edges by pinching it around the top and sides. The double layer is strong and stiff, so it creates a nice bond around the pan and keeps in the steam.

It’s important when cooking rice not to peek, lift the foil or stir it while it’s cooking.

Preheat the oven to 425 F and bake for 25 minutes.

Remove the tray from the oven and let it rest covered for 5 minutes, then uncover it and fluff the rice with a fork.

You can serve the rice immediately or you can recover it and warm it in the oven later.

This is also a nice way to cook rice and meat simultaneously because the rice tray can be on the bottom rack in the oven and the entrée can cook on the rack above it.

While my rice recipe is simple, you can get creative with add-ins.

You can add a pinch of saffron to the pan of rice before baking it and get a beautiful yellow saffron rice for your meal. You can add ¼ cup of broken vermicelli noodles per 1 cup of rice and get rice with vermicelli. You can caramelize onions or sauté mushrooms to mix in or serve over the top of the rice.

You can also plump dried raisins, barberries, currants or diced dried apricots in hot water and add them to the cooked rice. Toasted nuts will also make a beautiful garnish.

This dish can be made plain or fancy but, believe me, the plain version is a crowd-pleaser on its own.

Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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