Since rice takes as long to microwave as to cook the old-fashioned way, you may wonder, "Why bother?"
Three good reasons: The rice needn't be started in boiling water, it won't stick to the pan or scorch, and it will steam to perfection in a microwave. For best results, follow these guidelines:
* To prevent boil-over, use a casserole three times the volume of the rice and water placed into it.
* To hasten cooking, use the hottest tap water available.
* To reduce evaporation and keep the rice fluffy-moist, use a tight lid.
* If the rice is to cook evenly, don't add salt until after the rice is done, unless you dissolve it completely in the cooking liquid before adding the rice.
* To avoid breaking the individual grains of rice, stir the rice once only.
* To hold microwaved rice 10 to 15 minutes before you serve it, keep it tightly covered.
1 cup long-grain or converted rice
2 cups water, beef or chicken broth
Mix rice and liquid in microwave-safe casserole 3 times volume of combined ingredients. Cover with tight lid and microwave on HIGH (100% power) 4 to 6 minutes until small bubbles appear around edge.
Stir once. Re-cover and microwave on MEDIUM (50% power) 9 to 10 minutes, without stirring, until rice is al dente. Rice will seem dry on surface but some liquid will remain in bottom of casserole. This will be absorbed as rice stands.
Let rice stand, tightly covered, 5 minutes. Add salt to taste and fluff lightly with fork. Makes 4 servings.
Basic Steamed Brown Rice: Prepare as directed but substitute converted brown rice for white rice and increase microwave time on MEDIUM (50% power) to 22 to 25 minutes. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
10 QUICK WAYS
TO JAZZ UP RICE
(All amounts based on 1 cup uncooked rice. Always adjust salt to taste. All make 4 to 6 servings.)
Onion-Mushroom Rice: Microwave 1/2 cup minced onion in 1 tablespoon butter or margarine in wax-paper-covered, microwave-safe casserole on HIGH (100% power) 3 minutes before adding rice and liquid. Proceed as directed, adding 1 cup thinly sliced or coarsely chopped mushrooms before microwaving on MEDIUM (50% power).
Curried Rice: Add 1 tablespoon butter or margarine and 2 teaspoons curry powder to chicken broth and uncooked rice, then microwave as directed.
Saffron Rice: Blend 1/8 teaspoon powdered saffron with cooking liquid before adding rice, then microwave as directed.
Garlic-Sour Cream Rice: Microwave 1 minced garlic clove along with rice. After standing time, fork in 3/4 cup room-temperature sour cream and 2 tablespoons minced chives. Cover with lid and microwave on MEDIUM 2 minutes to warm and blend flavors.
Green Rice: Add 1/2 cup minced green onions (include some green tops) and 1 tablespoon butter to chicken broth and uncooked rice. Microwave as directed, then stir in 1 cup minced parsley just before serving.
Herbed Rice: Mix 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil, dill, chives or parsley or 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage or thyme with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine and fork into cooked rice before standing time. If fresh herbs are unavailable, substitute 1 teaspoon each dried, but crumble well first. Stir again lightly and serve.
Cheddar Rice: Before rice stands, add (but do not mix in) 1/2 to 2/3 cup shredded sharp Cheddar, Swiss, mozzarella or Jack cheese. Mix in lightly just before serving.
Mandarin Orange Rice: Microwave rice in half-and-half mixture of orange juice and chicken broth. Before serving, mix in 1 tablespoon butter or margarine, 2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest and 2 tablespoons minced parsley. Garnish with mandarin orange segments.
Fruit Rice: Toss seasoned, cooked rice with 1/3 cup seedless raisins or dried currants, diced dried apricots, pitted prunes or dates, figs or apples.
Nut Rice: Toss 1/3 cup coarsely chopped nuts (any kind) and 2 tablespoons melted butter with cooked rice.
Note: In ovens of less than 600 watts, increase cooking times about 15%.