Brown Rice: Not Just for Hippies Anymore

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In 1969, I ate my first bowl of plain, boiled brown rice, then proceeded to live on it for a week, replicating the diet of a hippie girl to whom I hoped to demonstrate my sex appeal. (It didn’t work.) Twenty years later, brown rice became a minor but regular part of my repertory.

Now brown rice has not only lost its hippie stigma; it has also become sort of de rigueur, though it’s mostly relegated to a dull side dish served underneath or next to something more interesting — stir-fries, stews, chili — a worthy if obligatory “healthful” substitute for white rice.

It need not be this way. There are dozens of brown-rice varieties, because “brown” simply means “hulled but not stripped of bran layers.” Brown basmati has the same nutty aroma as white, with more chew; most brown short-grains release starch, just like arborio; most brown long-grains cook just like “regular” rice; and black, mahogany, purple, red — all those novelty rices are “brown” and can be treated in pretty much the same ways, and those ways are myriad.

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Sunday Supper: Stuck-Pot Rice with Potato Crust

Recipe from How to Cook Everything.

Stuck-Pot Rice with Potato Crust

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Time: 1 1/2 hours, largely unattended

Visualize a stovetop paella served upside down, the gorgeous crust sitting on top. Made with rice, potatoes, or anything else that browns and sticks to the bottom of a pot—and given the fact that the recipe actually directs that you simply walk away (you’ll ruin it if you don’t)—stuck-pot rice is one of the easiest ways to get an impressive rice dish on the table.

Use brown basmati rice here if you like. The kernels will be slightly less starchy than with white basmati rice, but the flavor will be deep and delicious. Take the time to line the pot lid with a clean towel. This absorbs water so the condensation from the lid doesn’t drip back into the rice.

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