Sunday, January 8, 2012
Perfect Brown Rice
Most of us know that whole brown rice (rice in which the outer husk has not been polished off) is the healthier choice over white rice. I would also venture to guess that most of us prefer white rice to brown rice because brown rice is so tough and chewy! I know for years I never ate brown rice for this reason. It also takes forever to cook.
According to the Nourishing Traditions cookbook by Sally Fallon (a must-have book in every real food kitchen, in my opinion):
"All grains contain phytic acid (an organic acid in which phosphorus is bound) in the outer layer of the bran. Untreated phytic acid can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc in the intestinal tract and block absorption." page 452
Phytic acid is greatly reduced by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting grains. Brown rice is actually very low in phytic acid compared to other grains, so the Nourishing Traditions cookbook says it is all right to slow cook brown rice for at least two hours in a high-mineral, gelatinous broth to neutralize phytates and provide additional minerals. Alternatively, you can pre-soak brown rice for 7 hours or longer in warm water with an acidic medium (examples of acidic mediums include whey, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, or apple cider vinegar). I like to combine both approaches. My approach has the added benefit of greatly improving the taste and texture of brown rice.
Perfect Brown Rice
Brown rice (any variety will do, but I particularly enjoy Basmati and Jasmine)
Acidic medium (I would suggest whey or raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar)
Chicken or turkey stock or broth (ideally homemade - this will be a post for another day!)
Rice cooker or large pot
A good rule of thumb with rice is that 1 cup uncooked rice usually equals 2 cups or so of cooked rice, depending upon the variety. Whenever I make rice, I make a big batch. I take any leftover rice and fill into quart-sized ziplock bags. I smooth the rice out and freeze flat so they can be easily stacked and quickly thawed. This is my own version of "minute" rice - on a frantic weeknight, I just pull a bag out of the freezer, thaw the whole bag in cold water for a few minutes if necessary, then dump it into a pan, add a little filtered water, and reheat
Add several cups of rice to a bowl. Fill with slightly warm (approximately body-temperature) filtered water. Add about 1 tablespoon of acidic medium for every 2 cups of uncooked rice. I never measure - I just pour whatever looks good. Stir and leave sit, covered, for at least 7 hours. Drain and rinse rice. Add a few cups of stock (a good rule of thumb is no more than 1 cup for every 2 cups of uncooked rice). Add additional water if necessary to cover rice at least an inch or two (note: you can certainly make this without stock and just use all water - it is more nutritious and delicious with stock though!). Keep in mind that not as much liquid is needed since the rice has already absorbed a lot during the overnight soak. Cook in rice cooker or on stove on low until all water is absorbed or evaporated. At the end, you will have delicious, fluffy, slightly nutty brown rice that has all the wonderful texture of white rice and all the flavor and nutrition of brown rice!
photo credit: http://www.thefatlossauthority.com/fat_loss_tips/wp-content/uploads/2010/10/brown-rice.jpg