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Rice is a perfect compliment to many recipes and especially when it is properly cooked until it is plump tender and flaky. American rice comes in three different types. For main dishes, salads and soups, long grain rice is best since the slender grains remain separate when cooked. Medium grain rice is plumper and more tender than long grain rice making it perfect for such dishes as chow mein, fried rice or Spanish rice. For molds and puddings a short grain rice is best since it is almost round and the grains tend to cling together when cooked. Depending on the way rice is processed, it can be classified as brown rice, white, polished, converted or precooked. There are more nutrients in brown rice since the bran and germ are retained, while in white or polished rice these are removed. Converted rice has been soaked, steamed and dried before it is milled. Even so, converted rice has more nutrients than white rice but takes longer to cook. With pre-cooked rice that has been cooked and dehydrated, very little cooking is necessary.
Since all rice expands when it is cooked be sure you use a large enough pan. If you want your rice to be flavored you can use meat or vegetable stock as an alternative to water. You can also sauté the rice before cooking it or add a tablespoon of butter per cup of rice but remember that doing this will slightly reduce the volume of the rice when it is cooked. When cooking rice you will need a sauce pan, two cups of liquid and 1 teaspoon of salt per cup of rice. Heat this mixture on medium heat until the liquid is boiling and then reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer. Once the rice is boiling be sure to stir it with a fork to separate the grains. Place a tight lid on the sauce pan and allow the rice to simmer to 15 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. The rice is done when it is no longer mushy. Remove the rice from the heat and allow to stand covered until you are ready to serve. You can also cook your rice in the oven by combining all the ingredients in an oven safe dish. Cover the mixture and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for around 30 minutes. When cooking rice remember that 1 cup of dry rice will usually yield approximately 3 cups after it has cooked. Brown rice should be cooked in 2 1\4 cups of liquid with 1 teaspoon of salt per cup of rice. Much like white rice it needs to be simmered but for about 45 minutes. If you are baking brown rice in the oven it will need to cook for one hour. When you are not planning to use your rice for a while you should turn off the heat approximately 5 minutes prior to the end of your cooking time and allow it to sit covered on the burner. If you want to reheat rice place it in a sieve and steam it over simmering water for at least 10 minutes. Be sure to cover the rice so the steam will cook through all the grains. This will add moisture and plump up the rice. Left over rice is great when sautéed in a pan with 2 tablespoons of liquid. You can also add butter and herbs to give it additional flavor. When cooking rice in soup dishes you should always add the rice to the stock and bring it to a boil. Allow the rice to simmer for 15 minutes before adding the other ingredients of your soup.