Adapting white rice recipes to brown rice

I always cook brown rice and I never even have any white rice on hand. So I need to adapt many rice recipes because, for some reason I don’t understand, white rice is always the default. In any culture. Brown rice needs more water and time to cook than white rice. Conventional wisdom is that you need a water-to-brown-rice ratio of 2.5 to 1, and twice as long to cook (i.e. 45 minutes). Actually, in my experience it really needs more like 2.7 to 1, and 50 minutes. This is not an issue when it’s just plain rice.

But I wondered about dishes that incorporate other things to be cooked with the rice-- e.g. biryani, jambalaya, khicari, mujaddarah, paella, that sort of thing. Basically, vegetables or lentils (I’m vegetarian so the meat ingredients don’t enter into it for me). These recipes are planned for the cooking time of the other ingredients to match up with the cooking time of the rice, since they all go into the same pot at the same time. The problem is to avoid overcooking the other things in the longer time it takes for the brown rice to be done. But you want to cook them together so that the rice absorbs the flavor.

Yesterday I made vegetarian jambalaya, more or less based on Emeril’s recipe. He replaces the meat and seafood with lots of vegetables. But of course he uses white rice. I didn’t want to overcook the vegetables. So here’s what I did. First of all, I cooked all the brown rice with half as much vegetable stock as usual, and all the liquid was absorbed in half the usual time. So it was halfway cooked. The grains all swelled up, but were still crunchy. Then after sautéing the vegetables, when I tossed in the rice, I added the other half of the stock. The rice finished cooking that way, and the vegetables were done to perfection. Success!

My nephew is some kind of healthy food hippy and has been subtly suggesting using brown rice when cooking. Now I’m an old school white rice Nazi but am going to try to roll with brown rice on my next fried rice experiment. I’ll make sure to balance the healthiness of the meal by using SPAM as the meat ingredient.

Once the rice has already been cooked by itself, I don’t find it makes much difference in preparing fried rice. Go for it.

That seems like a lot of water to me. My experience it’s 2 cups of water to 1 cup of brown rice, cook for 1 hour, let stand for 10-15 minutes. But I’ve also found every rice is a little different–some are drier than others, though I’ve never found one that needs that much water. Alton Brown’s oven recipe calls for 1 2/3 cup water per cup of brown rice.

With brown rice, you need a little less water if you parch it first and get most the individual kernels (is that the word for rice?) to pop open, with a toasty flavor to boot!

Although I normally like white rice, I think brown rice holds up better in rice-based casseroles.

I can’t get the flame low enough (without it going out) so that the water wouldn’t have all disappeared long before that hour is up and the bottom getting all scorched. What sort of stove are you using?

I have a Kenmore gas stove. It’s not exactly this one, but similar. If you’re getting scorching, I’d think the cooking vessel you’re using is a more likely culprit. Are you using a pot with a tight-fitting lid and a hefty bottom? If you’re using a cheapo-pot with a thin bottom, it’s more likely to scorch. My stove also has a back burner that is smaller than others, so you can get a really low flame out of that one, but I don’t use that for rice half the time. The regular burner works fine.

Why not just cook the brown rice separately and add it to whatever else you are cooking at the end?

Cooking brown rice over the stove is a PITA–I can’t ever get the water right and always get scorching on the bottom. So now I exclusively make oven baked brown rice, then add it to whatever I happen to be cooking. It’s tough enough to make it through a whole 'nother cooking process without breaking down too much.

I used to do oven baked brown rice, but now I do the method described n this blog post. Basically you cook it like pasta. It comes out the best I’ve ever cooked!

I read this as “Adapting rice krispies to brown rice” and was quite intrigued. Naturally, I was thinking rice krispy treats with a vitamin B kick.

WarmNPrickly, you can get brown rice bars at Trader Joe’s that are pretty much just rice krispy treats. They’re usually in the candy-over-the-freezer area, rather than the cereal bar or health bar sections.

SmartAleq, interesting link! I might try it out tonight- I’m trying to do as much as possible in the oven to warm up the house.