We often talk about cooking rice like whistling or snapping your fingers: you either can or you can't. Some people just seem to have a gift to make flawless rice. The rest of us...use rice cookers. But rice cookers, for all their whiz-bang science that makes perfect rice every time, aren't really formulated for nutty, nutritious brown rice, which requires a longer cooking time for water to penetrate its tough layer of bran. Which brings us back to where we started: What's the best way to cook brown rice?
If you go ahead with the sensible idea to follow the instructions in your brown rice package—generally a ratio of two cups of water to one cup of rice, all cooked together until the rice fully absorbs the liquid—you might get a decent pot of rice. Or you might, like us, be pretty disappointed, with unevenly hydrated grains or a pile of grains that has a slightly pasty consistency. After cooking our way through pounds of brown rice in the SAVEUR test kitchen, we've found that method pretty unreliable. Here's our alternative.
1) Rinse Your Rice
A smart thing to do for white rice, too: rinsing rice in a strainer washes away the surface starches that contribute to gluey grains.
2) Boil a Big Pot of Water
12 cups is what you're after, what you'd use the cook a pound of pasta. Once the initial starch is removed, boiling the rice in ample water is the best way to cook it fast and evenly with zero clumping. Boil uncovered to keep any starch gunk from causing an overflow, but keep an eye on the pot regardless.
After 30 minutes of boiling, your rice will be mostly—but not entirely—done. Strain it in a colander, but don't rinse it.
Now to finish the rice off: Return it to the pot and cover. Let it sit in the spa of its own residual moisture to steam a little bit. This final step will give you fully tender but not-at-all mushy rice ready to fluff with a fork and serve to your adoring fans. Time and time again.