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What's up with my rice???!!!

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I have been cooking the same Mexican rice recipe from my mother-in-law for months. It is different every time! She said it is hard to get right, but I used to do it perfectly. Lately, I can NOT get it right. The recipe calls for extra long-grain rice to be browned in oil til a LIGHT golden brown- oil is removed and veggies and broth is added. Rice is supposed to cook covered (with steam allowed to escape) for not more than 10 min. It used to come out perfect- the grains were cooked, but not mushy. Now, some of the rice comes out crunchy as if the grains are not fully cooked. I can tell by looking at them, which grains are crunchy. I HATE this! The factors that I have thought may be the cause are either not enough moisture, too much moisture, browning too long or not long enough, not removing enough oil, or using the wrong pan which doesn't circulate moisture right or something. When I used to get it right, I was cooking the rice in a skillet with a lid, but I had to get rid of that pan. My new skillet doesn't have a lid and it is bigger. I put foil loosely over the pan, but when I discovered it not coming out right, I thought that it needed a real lid (thinking the shape is important). So then I tried it in a pot with a lid- still not right. The pot is not quite as big as the skillet in circumference, so the bed of rice inside is thicker than in the skillet and of course it is taller, so the lid is higher. I thought maybe the pan dimensions was the cause. I have no idea! I am not a chef, so I don't know if this is a simple issue of moisture amount or if the pan makes a difference. I am going to buy another skillet with a lid, but I don't know if this will fix the problem. If I add water, it seems that I can eventually soften the rice, but then it gets kind of tore up. I don't know what else I could be doing different? Maybe I remove a little more or less of the oil. Maybe my temp is too high and I am not cooking long enough (I sometimes have to stir it or it gets burned which I never had to do before). I don't know! Please help!
post #2 of 14
Welcome to Chef Talk, Chef_Wifey. You've come to the right place to learn and share.

I am also not a chef; I'm a veteran home cook. At first glance, your description mentions a whole bunch of different variables to consider. Here are just a few:

1. Type of rice
2. Shape or pan
3. Cooking temperature and time
4. Amount of liquid (and I count the veggies as part of this)
5. You didn't mention this, but location relative to sea level. If you're at a high elevation this might affect cooking method.

My experience with cooking rice with vegetables (mostly onion, mushrooms and eggplant) has been in saucepans and dutch ovens with tight-fitting lids. I can't recall ever cooking the rice for less than 20 minutes- sometimes closer to 25 minutes. And I NEVER use Minute Rice!

Please let us know the answer to some of the items I listed above and we'll go from there. Rest assured that somehow your puzzle will be solved! There are too many good chefs and cooks here for you to go away without the answer.

We'd be delighted if you could stop by at the Welcome Forum to tell us a bit more about yourself, both in and out of the kitchen.

Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
Moderator Emerita, Welcome Forum
***It is better to ask forgiveness than beg permission.***
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 


well, the rice cooks because it is browned first. i don't use minute rice either. My mother-in-laws is always cooked and soft- her recipe says no longer than 10 min. Another factor that has changed is I have moved to CA right on the ocean. However I am several feet above the ocean level. I don't know how this compares to my previous location of Oklahoma? Never thought of that.
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
I am just confused. The amount of liquid should be correct because that is what the recipe says. It takes into acount all the veggies (a bit of tomato, green pepper, onion, and garlic). I know that these veggies have moisture, but the recipe has worked before, and her rice is always right. I am prepared to alter the amount if that is the problem, but there are too many factors to be sure. Maybe I am not even cooking it the full 10 minutes. I am so rushed these days, that I wouldn't be surprised if it only goes for 6 or 7 min. But like I said, the rice seems to be getting burned in places, so maybe lower temp. Also, I know it may sound weird to let steam out (tilt lid slightly), but she says to make sure the steam can get out. Maybe after 20 more times or so, I will have it narrowed down :( , but I am hoping someone with experience or familiarity with this type of rice recipe will know exactly what the problem probably is. Anyway, we'll see!
post #5 of 14
I agree w/ Mezz. 20 mins should be about right. Something else to consider...Did you change cooking elements say electric to gas or maybe a newer range which is more effeciant<sp>. Maybe you are cooking it to fast and the liquid evaporates too quickly. Personnally, I've made that rice alot(my first restaurant gig was in a mexican restaurant) and I really think that time is the issue here. Good luck and I hope this helps.
Enjoy Life ~ Eat out more often
Enjoy Life ~ Eat out more often
post #6 of 14
Make sure the liquid comes to a boil first before you turn down the heat and put the lid on. You can also try soaking the rice in water before sauteing.

post #7 of 14
I'm not sure how you would fix it, but maybe your mother-in-law could visit or even talk to you on the phone to help you fix it. Or, if she's not availible, try talking to someone else who knows how. And, try tasting the rice before you finish it off. I always do that with my rice and pasta...Good Luck!
post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 


Thanks everyone for your advice. I forgot that I HAVE switched ranges from electric to gas!!! I am sure that also has something to do with it. With this recipe, you don't wait for liquid to boil. After you put veggies in rice, you add the liquid to the rice and then turn the heat back on. Trust me- it works. At least it always has before. I really am beginning to think that given the changes, I probably need to cook a little longer at a lower heat so it doesn't burn. Since none of you mentioned moisture amount, then I suppose that is not the problem. I didn't know if rice was really sensitive about the amount of moisture it has or not. I really like the sound of the idea that it is cooking too quickly and evaporating too fast. That seems like it would cause what is going on. I will get a better pan, and try to cook longer (although 10 min. has ALWAYS done it before :p ). Hopefully I will be able to bring good news after I try it. May not be for a few days. But thanks everyone-- good ideas!
post #9 of 14
Long grain rice would take between 1.75 to 2 cups of liquid per cup of rice. If you don't heat the liquid the rice won't cook. That's why I mentioned boiling it, I should have mentioned why. Make sure the top layer isn't cool while the bottom is hot.

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 


well, the reason it probably works is because the liquid is hot when i put it in the rice. it is a broth that i have boiling while waiting for the rice to be ready for it. but now that you mention it, if the broth is done before the rice is ready for it, sometimes i turn the heat down on broth so not too much liquid will evaporate- this does cool it a bit and stops the boiling. maybe that is the problem also. maybe i need to keep it at a boil- my timing used to be better (before i had a 1 yr old running around under my feet while trying to cook) and i used to have the rice ready for the broth at the perfect time. hmmm. that is another factor- i will make sure liquid is boiling when i put it in rice next time! that makes perfect sense, and i am sure that it is definitely part of the cause if not the whole cause. THANK YOU for that added comment.
post #11 of 14
Congratulations! I have a 9 month old. I totally understand! :)
post #12 of 14
Boiling the liquid is a good idea but soaking the rice before sauteing will change the nature of the dish dramatically.

I've had a few problems with crunchy rice when my burner wasn't providing sufficient heat. The crunchy rice occurs in the top of the pan, right? I don't know why your mother in law instructs you to have the cover slightly tilted, but I'm guessing the top of your rice isn't steaming properly. I'd make sure your liquid is boiling but I'd also give a shot at having the cover on firmly.
post #13 of 14
I agree with Scott, the lid should be closed tightly otherwise the liquid will boil away before it has had time to absorb into the rice.

I do a Mexican rice that sounds pretty similar to yours but the lid is closed and the rice cooks in liquid for about 15 minutes or so on very low heat.

Rice is cheap enough; try a few experiments to create your own dish. :)

post #14 of 14
Hey there I am not a chef but a home cook and have been making this kind of rice for years from when I lived in San Antonio and learned to make it there. I agree with Scott and Jock that you need to have the lid on tight so the rice steams. I find that my rice takes about 20 to 25 minutes for all the liquid to absorb and the rice to be cooked . The heat should be very low after you add in the hot broth with the seasonings and I use chicken broth mixed with either pace picatte ( spelling ? ) or tomatoe sauce with seasonings. I never have the liquid that goes in to the rice boiling just heat it up so its quite warm so I do not think that is the trouble. I think that your heat is to high after you put in your rice and saute it with the onions and garlic etc after . I put the rice in hot oil with garlic and onion saute till rice is pale light brown pour in warm liquid bring to soft boil and then turn the heat way down and cook with lid on for 20 to 25 minutes . Also are you sure you mother inlaw does not use par boiled rice as in Uncle Bens it cooks faster then long grain but not as fast as say minute rice which is not good IMO for much .
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