Creole-Style Boiled Rice

I hate making rice. I mean, how can something so seemingly simple, be so temperamental? It either comes out too dry with a hard crunch to each grain or it comes out a huge mass of gelatinous, white nastiness that just sits on the plate daring you to put something on it. Good white rice should spread out on the plate, not sit there taunting you. On my last trip to New Orleans, I was thrilled to finally be able to eat rice the way I remember it, separate grains and with a slight tooth, al dente if you will. Not mushy. Not sticky. Just good old plain rice.

I own a rice cooker and, I admit, it makes decent rice for red beans and gumbo. But often the bottom becomes crusty or the rice might come out a little too mushy for my taste and, quite honestly, the results are always a little disappointing. But, thanks to Danno over at Nolacuisine.com and the folks at Commander’s Palacerestaurant in New Orleans I have it… the golden chalice… perfect white rice. The key is to boil the rice like pasta until it is tender and then drain it. You can also dry the grains in an oven if need be, but when I make it (so far) it comes out perfect! “Why vinegar?” you may ask. It serves two purposes: one, the acid helps tighten up the grains of rice and prevent it from getting mushy and two, it helps make it very white. Recipe modified from Commander’s Palace cookbook:

Creole-Style Boiled Rice

1 cup long-grain rice, Basmati is good… I use Mahatama
1 quart water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 bay leaves (the recipe calls for fresh if you have access to it)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring the water, salt, and vinegar to a rolling boil in a large pot that has a lid, add the rice and bay leaves, and stir occasionally and gently with wooden spoon until the water returns to a boil. Stirring will release the starch, so avoid overstirring, and, when boiling, do not stir at all. The boiling prevents the rice from sticking. Cover the pot but with the lid slightly ajar to let steam out. Continue boiling for about 12 minutes or until the grains soften and water appears to dissipate. The grains will swell and become tender to the touch. Drain the rice by creating a small opening between the cover and the pot or use a colander. Season with additional salt and pepper.

Makes approximately 2 cups of cooked rice.

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