When the water has come to a boil, stir in the rice, salt, and butter (if using), and bring it back to a gentle simmer.
It's back to basics! How to cook a big pot of rice to go with dinner is one of the first lessons many of us learn in the kitchen. It's an easy and straightforward process that can nonetheless feel like a culinary triumph when you're first starting out. Here's how we do it. What's your technique?
If you make rice frequently or often need a lot of it at once, it starts to make sense to get a rice cooker for your kitchen. But don't feel that you have to run out and buy one right away. Start with just making rice on the stove top, and upgrade from there.
1 cup rice
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter or oil (optional)
Small (2-quart or so) saucepan with a lid
Pre-cooking: It's good practice to rinse your rice in a strainer before cooking. This isn't strictly necessary, but it will rinse off any dusty starch on the surface of the rice along with any leftover chaff or stray particles. (Some rices have more starchy coating than others.)
1. Measure the Rice and Water: For most rice, use a 1:2 ratio of one cup of rice to two cups of water. Measure a half cup of uncooked rice per person and scale this ratio up or down depending on how much you're making. Some rice varieties will need a little less or a little more water as it cooks, so check the package for specific instructions.
2. Boil the Water: Bring the water to boil in a small sauce pan. Rice expands as it cooks, so use a saucepan large enough to accommodate. A 2-quart saucepan for one to two cups of uncooked rice is a good size.
3. Add the Rice: When the water has come to a boil, stir in the rice, salt, and butter (if using), and bring it back to a gentle simmer.
4. Cover and Cook: Cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. Don't take off the lid while the rice is cooking — this lets the steam out and affects the cooking time.
Approximate cooking times:
• White Rice: 18 to 25 minutes
• Brown Rice: 30 to 40 minutes
• Wild Rice: 45 to 60 minutes
Start checking the rice around 18 minutes for white rice and 30 minutes for brown rice. When done, the rice will be firm but tender, and no longer crunchy. It is fine if it's slightly sticky but shouldn't be gummy. If there is still water left in the pan when the rice is done, tilt the pan to drain it off.
5. Turn Off the Heat and Remove the Lid: When the rice is done, turn off the heat and take off the lid. Fluff the rice with a spoon or a fork, and let it sit for a few moments to "dry out" and lose that wet, just-steamed texture.
Rice keeps well in the fridge for several days, so you can make extra ahead to serve later.