When you bake brown rice there’s no such thing as the sticky, dense mass that often passes for cooked brown rice. Instead, each grain is separate and fluffy, a nutritional splendor that outshines white rice on every scale. This recipe works with any type of brown rice, but I prefer the nutty aroma of Basmati rice. I love this way of making rice so much that I stopped buying white rice and I hardly ever use the rice cooker any more.
Earlier this summer, I needed white rice for something I was making so I dragged out my rice cooker and rummaged through the utensil drawer, looking for the little plastic measuring cup that goes with it. When I couldn’t find it I blamed everyone in the family for their creative way of storing items, but after a while I remembered doing some spring cleaning and finding a strange little plastic cup that I got rid of because I didn’t know what it belonged to. I’d forgotten that it went with the rice cooker because I hadn’t made rice that way in over seven years.
If you don’t have a covered casserole dish or oven safe pan, make sure you tightly crimp the foil around the edges before you place it in the oven so that the steam doesn’t escape. Use heavy-duty foil or a double layer of regular foil. You’ll get best results if you use foil and a lid, however.
There have been reports recently that brown rice contains arsenic. It turns out that the problem is when rice is grown in fields where cotton previously grew, as cotton is treated with chemicals that contain arsenic. Stay away from rice grown in the American South and anywhere there is a naturally high level of arsenic in the ground water, like Bangladesh. Rice from California and Asia (I would use rice from Japan or Thailand) are generally regarded as safe. Lundgren is one brand that is grown in California. If you’re in doubt about where your rice came from, boil it in large quantities of water and dump the water, as arsenic is water-soluble. Here are links for more information:
Oven-Baked Brown Rice
Serves 6, adapted from “The Best Light Recipe”
1 1/2 cups long, medium or short grain brown rice
2 1/3 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Place the oven rack in the middle and preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C).
Place a casserole dish with a lid near the stove, along with a piece of foil large enough to cover the top of the dish. Put the rice and olive oil in the dish and stir until the grains are evenly coated. Bring the water and salt to a boil and immediately pour it over the rice. Quickly stir it and cover the dish with the foil, followed by the lid if you have one. Tightly press the edges of the foil against the dish and place it in the oven. Bake for 60 minutes.
Remove from the oven, uncover the rice and fluff it with a fork. Cover the rice with a clean towel and let it stand for 5 minutes. Remove the towel and let the rice sit for another 5 minutes before serving.