How To…Make Rice

In Nicaragua you get rice three times a day. If there’s no rice, you can’t call it a meal. For breakfast it’s mixed with beans and labeled “gallopinto.” At lunch, it’s served alongside the beans. At dinner, you can have gallopinto or rice and beans. Basically, it’s rice and beans, or riceandbeans. Got it? And you have them with everything. Even if you have pasta, rice and beans will be on the table, never you mind the double-starching.

I make rice fairly often. Nothing says “home” to me as much as a simple dinner with seared steak or a breaded chicken cutlet with a side of fluffy rice. I don’t know how common rice is at the American dinner table, but most people I know are crazy about it, but don’t know how to cook it. Even professionally trained cooks I know confess how inept they are at preparing rice.

This is how I go about the business, and it works beautifully every time.

Makes 4 to 6 side dish servings
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ small onion (about ½ cup), finely chopped
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups water or low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
– Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
– Add rice and cook, stirring, until grains are shiny and evenly coated with oil, 2 to 3 minutes. Add water or broth and salt, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil.
– Boil rice (do not stir!) until most of the liquid has evaporated and you can see small bubbles bursting on the surface of the rice.
– Immediately reduce the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and cook (do not stir, do not remove lid!) for 15 minutes. Fluff rice with chopsticks or fork and serve.