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~ Commander's Kitchen's Recipe for: "Boiled" Rice ~

IMG_5689Sometimes we cooks take the simplest of things for granted.  We intuitively know what spices, herbs, vegetables and/or fruits to add to a pot of perfectly-cooked, fluffy white rice to turn it into a spectacular side-dish.  We instinctively use this inexpensive grain as a foil to stretch a meal that feeds a family of four into a meal that feeds six-to-eight.  We grew up eating it, we make it for our families, we keep it on hand in our pantries, we order it in restaurants and we don't talk about it very much.  After all... it's just rice.  Measure it, cook it, fluff it, serve it... what's to talk about.

6a0120a8551282970b014e87dacbcc970d-800wiI've never had any problems cooking rice via the old-as-the-hills conventional "2 cups of water for every 1 cup of rice" method on the stovetop, but a lot of you have.  So much so, that your questions prompted me to write a post about it back in April of 2011.  You can learn ~ How to:  Cook Perfect White Rice on the Stovetop ~, the way my grandmother taught me how to do it, in Categories 4 or 15. To date, not one blogging day has passed that my simple and straightforward rice post hasn't garnered me and KE several hits.

IMG_5456Over the past few days, I've been posting some fun recipes for Cajun-Creole New Orleans-style food.  On Friday I posted my recipe for ~ Save Those Shrimp Shells!!!  Because I Said So!!! (How to:  Make a Basic Shrimp Stock a la Melanie) ~, in Categories  14, 15 or 22.  Tomorrow I will be using that stock to make ~ Shrimp Etouffee: A Hallmark of Louisiana Cuisine ~.  It will be found in Categories 2, 3, 14 or 19.

IMG_5622On my first trip to NOLA back in 1983, not only did I eat my way through that amazing city, I came back with a stack of amazing cookbooks. I learned that no people take their rice more seriously than the people of New Orleans, and I was surprised to learn they have their own method for cooking it.  It too is simple and straightforward, but their method is more like cooking pasta than rice.  Also, it starts out on the stovetop and finishes in the oven... this was unconventional news to me. Because I got my very first taste of Etouffee in Commander's Palace back in 1983, it's appropriate to feature their cookbook, and, their method for cooking their rice with you.  Without further adieu :

Boiled Creole Rice a la Commander's Kitchen Cookbook:

6a0120a8551282970b014e87dacfb9970d-320wi"Rice is the major staple of Louisiana cooking, and it's always called boiled rice, not steamed rice, probably because you keep the water boiling.  With so many meandering rivers, lakes, streams and bayous slicing through the state, Louisiana has lots of the boggy flatlands where rice thrives almost effortlessly.  It's so abundant that we're always using it to stretch a meal for unexpected guests.  We serve boiled rice in cakes, as hot calas (rice cakes served with cane syrup), in rice dressing, in stuffing, in jambalaya, with red beans, and on and on." ...  

... "We serve long-grain and short-grain.  Our rice is unusual in that it starts on the stovetop and finishes in the oven.  This is a true Creole technique.  You're probably accustomed to a much smaller ratio of water to rice.  The process of dumping the excess water, then finishing the cooking in the oven is what we call "sweating the rice"."

(Note from Mel:  In the event you are not inclined to experiment with a new way to cook rice, feel free to stick to my conventional method or your own favorite way to cook it.  Why?  Because there is no gray area with rice:  either the grains fluff and separate in the end, or you've got pasty glop.  I enjoyed trying this Creole method out, and, once I got the hang of it (which required a couple of adjustments on my part), it did work beautifully.   I will say this:  if you are cooking Louisiana fare, and don't have time for trial and error, cook the rice the way you always do and just add some bay leaves during the cooking process... they add a lovely fragrance and flavor.

6a0120a8551282970b014e60f63889970c-320wi1  cup extra long-grain or long-grain white rice

1 quart water

1 1/2  teaspoons sea salt

2 fresh bay leaves, or 3-4 dried

freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend

1-2  tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

6a0120a8551282970b014e60f63023970c-320wi~ Step 1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

~ Step 2.  Wash the rice three times with cold water, stirring the rice with your hands and draining the water each time.  Drain thoroughly, until grains are almost dry again.

6a0120a8551282970b01538de20285970b-320wi~ Step 3.  Bring the water and salt to a rolling boil in a large ovenproof pot that has a lid.  

Sprinkle in the rice, add bay leaves, and stir occasionally and gently with a wooden spoon until water returns to a boil, about 30-60 seconds.

Note:  Stirring will release the starch, so avoid overstirring. Once the water returns to boiling, do not stir at all for the rest of the cooking process.  The boiling prevents the rice from sticking.

IMG_5634~ Step 4.  Cover the pot, but with the lid slightly ajar, to let steam out. Continue boiling for about 9-10 minutes, or until the grains swell and become tender to the touch.

~ Step 5.  Drain the rice by creating a small opening between the lid and the pot.  Remove the lid.  

IMG_5640Season top of rice with salt, pepper and dots of butter.   

~ Step 6.  Place pot, uncovered, on center rack of preheated 325 degree oven for 5-6 minutes, taking care not to brown it.  Do not stir during this time.  Remove pot from oven and fluff/rake through the rice with a fork.  Using a large spoon, remove rice from pot and immediately place in a bowl to prevent carryover heat from over-cooking it.  Serve immediately or use as directed:

IMG_5822Commander's Kitchen's Recipe for:  "Boiled" Rice:  Recipe yields 4, 2/3 cup servings, or, about 2 2/3 cups cooked rice.

Special Equipment List:  4-quart stockpot w/lid; colandar; wooden spoon

Cook's Note:  While we Yankees eat potatoes with most traditional meals, rice takes center stage in Cajun and Creole cuisine.  The average Cajun or Creole would give the average Chinese a run for his or her money in rice consumption... and they have little patience for exotic varieties such as arborio, basmati or jasmine either.  The great state of Louisiana is the third largest producer of rice in the United States.  Their love of rice is linked to the influence of the Spanish who colonized Louisiana and had enormous influence on their cuisine.  This is similar to the influence the Northern and Eastern European potato-eaters had on the rest of us.

6a0120a8551282970b01774381887b970d-800wiExtra Cook's Note:  We love rice in our house and sometimes I like to make it in an electric rice steamer too.  I use rice in all sorts of different ways. Here's one of my favorites: ~ Leftover Rice?  Use it to Make Chinese Fried Rice ~.  My recipe is in Categories 3, 4, 13 or 14.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)


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