Rice may be a lot of things but it is neither an exact science nor made by Uncle Ben. I learned from a wonderful Colombian woman years ago how to make the perfect pot of rice. From there you can mix it up and add all kinds of things. Her method was simple and it does not start with boiling water.Add olive oil to your pot, at least 2 tablespoons. As it warms, add your rice. Once the rice begins to turn translucent, add your liquid which should be double the rice amount, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover and turn down to low for about 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit another ten minutes. Done, done and done.
The olive oil is important. It does a few things but also, if you leave it on the stove a bit longer it will make the bottom layer crunchy. The Colombians all this Pega meaning “the stuck part”. I’ve seen them fight over this crunchy layer.
I rarely make just plain rice anymore but if you are new to making rice, try a plain pot first. Once you have that down it’s time to get creative. Usually I will add stuff in with the oil like chopped bell pepper, onion, tomato, green chilis. I add 1/4 tsp at least of some sort of seasoning (Goya is my favorite one) salt and pepper. Whatever you add does not need to cook long, just start to soften it and then add your rice. Give it a good mix until things are nice and hot and then add your liquid and cook as usual. The rice in the picture above has green bell pepper and tomato in it which is what gives it that redish color.
Something else that I will often do that adds flavor is I will put half chicken stock, half water. Just make sure it’s a 2 to 1 ratio. If you use a cup of rice, use 2 cups of liquid.
Any rice will do. Medium grain will be clumpy and sticky (love that myself), long grain will be more separate and fluffy. I typically use Jasmine or Basmati. The smell you get from either of those is heavenly and they cook up nicely.
Lastly, I am not one of those that believes you have to cover and leave it. If you don’t want the sticky part on the bottom, run a spatula over the bottom before you cover it to keep the rice from sticking. I also will sometimes add a pat of butter halfway through the cooking, just plop it on top.
The best way to tell if the rice is ready to have the heat turned off is if you don’t see water bubbling up on the surface anymore. If you are unsure, leave it alone for a another minute. Make sure to let the rice sit for ten minutes, it finished cooking.
Finally, I feel I should make mention of quick cooking rices. It is always better to do it yourself. Once you take the time to learn, you realize it is far superior. Those quick cooking rices (like any quick cooking grain) has been stripped of anything remotely good for you and what you are left with is not nutritious in the least. And of course, brown is always better than white.