With all my cooking experience, I still cannot master rice. I mean, I do well when it’s a fried rice or rice balls or something that should have a sticky/mushy consistency. But when it comes to fluffy, individual grains that can stand up on their own, I suck.
A few years back I even thought I had discovered the secret. Alas, my rice usually came out crunchy, especially brown rice.
Now I read somewhere to boil your rice al dente like pasta. And…after trying it…I’m a believer!!! If you’re down to seasoning the rice after it boils, this method can work for you, too!
Another thing that is great about this method is you can throw measuring out the window. The best things to do is soak the rice to take away excess starch, rinse like crazy, and add the rice to your pot, using enough water to cover the rice by a couple of inches. Boil, and taste periodically to your desired consistency. Drain, season with oil, butter, spices, etc, and you’re good to go!
Growing up in Northern New Jersey, especially a town like Waldwick, I was exposed to a ton of Italian and Italian American food. It wasn’t until about the time I was in grad school that I discovered Arancini at a casual Italian deli. It is not something I choose to eat all the time, but it did not make me less hooked on its awesomeness.
After poring over some recipes, I decided to give it a shot, especially as I had all the ingredients I needed. I chose to make two types of filling – mozzarella and sausage. For a dipping sauce, I spiced up some Rao’s marinara with sausage, spices, and cheese. I enjoy making my own sauce from scratch, but Rao’s is really a great base in a time crunch.
For the rice, I did not have any arborio or Italian rice. Instead I went for the Thai Jasmine rice that I wasn’t loving in my Pineapple Fried Rice. The texture is very sticky, which I felt would fare well in rice balls. The end result was actually pretty awesome – the texture of the rice ball was less dense and more fragrant than traditional arancini, and they did not feel like a brick in my stomach.
This was a really great Pantry Project recipe – the only refrigerated items were the mozzarella and eggs, which are stuff I usually have on hand. Everything else was in my pantry or freezer. Great recipe to remember for a cold, snowy winter day. This recipe yields 16 rice balls – 8 sausage and 8 cheese.
As Lent marches on, I’m cooking more vegetarian meals at home as well as being selective with what I order out. OK, I’m not so selective about ice cream or cheese, but it has been a challenge avoiding meat.
I really enjoy black beans as a side dish and from my culinary nutrition days I know a meal of rice and beans is considered a complete protein and a good meat substitute. So I attempted a simple Mexican style black bean recipe. It was tasty, but I’m not going to be competing with any restaurants soon.
One silver lining in my less than stellar attempt, I used my beloved pilaf recipe for the rice.
I think this worked out as I wanted, the extra oil definitely made a huge difference!
Bottom of saucepan coated with oil
One of my favorite things in the world to eat is a really good basmati rice pilaf. I don’t even need sauces or meat or beans, I’m content just with the rice. In my world, a really good pilaf has tender but almost al dente grains, is not fluffy, and the grains don’t stick together. I have been trying forger to master this to no avail. Continue reading