A good basic formula for cooking rice is 1 cup of uncooked rice, 2 cups liquid, 1 tablespoon butter or margarine and 1 teaspoon salt. The liquid used for cooking the rice can be water or broth for savory dishes, or perhaps some fruit juice for a sweet dish.
Rice usually triples when cooked, so you can expect about 3 cups of cooked rice from each cup of regular uncooked rice. Amounts vary for the pre-cooked variety and for brown rice.
For a long time, I thought rice had to be eaten quickly after it was cooked, but I have learned that leftover cooked rice can be covered and refrigerated for up to a week with no appreciable loss of flavor or nutrients.
And rice can be reheated. For each cup of cooked rice, add 2 tablespoons of liquid. Cover and heat for 4 to 5 minutes on top of the stove or in the oven. If you use a microwave for reheating, cook at full power for about 1 1/2 minutes per cup.
For years, I have strived for that perfect pot of rice. You know … separate, soft, fluffy grains with just the right amount of chewy texture. But I have learned that even the glutinous rice (which is almost 100 percent starch) served in Chinese restaurants can be just as delicious as the light and fluffy kind.
When I was considering something for lunch that would be quick and easy yet filling, a rice dish that one of my daughters had learned to make in home economics many years ago came to mind.
It had been years since I had made this simple version of Spanish rice. As strange as it might sound, our family likes to enjoy this rice dish with round, butter-type crackers.
This is not what you could refer to as a “chef-approved” rice recipe, because it is made with instant rice, which is usually considered a “no-no” among food professionals. Simone “Simca” Beck, who was a friend of Julia Child’s and co-wrote “Mastering The Art of French Cooking” with her, once got my attention at a cooking class when she pointed a big kitchen knife at us and told us to never use instant rice.
If you make the Spanish Rice Pronto, you had better be very hungry or have several people to enjoy it with, because it makes a large amount. Leftovers can be frozen, or stirred into a pot of vegetable soup, turned into a tasty salad or incorporated into a casserole.
Spanish Rice Pronto
2 tablespoons oil
⅓ cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound ground beef
1 (7 ounce) box instant rice
2 (8 ounces each) cans tomato sauce
2 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Sauté the bell pepper and onion until soft but not browned. Add the ground beef and brown. Drain well. Stir in the rice, tomato sauce and water. Cover and cook over low heat about 8 to 10 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Season with salt and pepper to taste.