Crunchy Rice

It has been a while since I have posted a recipe for a side dish, and I thought it was time. Cookies and homemade ravioli are all fine and good, but weeknight dinner dishes deserve some time too. I don’t usually put a lot of time into my side dishes, which sometimes leads to boring dinners (maybe I should look for some new side dish recipes). Crunchy rice is super easy to put together, but a lot more interesting than plain rice or baked potatoes (my fallback starchy sides).

This is a variation on a rice dish my mom made when I was a kid, with cream soup and butter. I skip the cream soup in favor of chicken broth, and the butter in favor of olive oil. Rice and one clove of garlic and it’s ready for the oven. It bakes up crunchy and browned around the edges and lightly browned on top. The toasted edges provide a nice contrast to the moist, fluffy rice in the middle.

I love dinner dishes that can go in the oven and do their thing while I prep the rest of dinner, clean out the sink or fold the last load of laundry for the day. I usually make this rice to have with pork tenderloin or roast chicken that can bake at the same time. Sometimes, when I’m really on the ball, I’ll throw sweet potatoes in 30-45 minutes before the rice so they will all be done at the same time. Depending on the size of the chicken, I’ll put it in at the same time as the sweet potatoes and set a timer to remind me when to start the rice.

As with most of my recipes, feel free to adjust the recipe to suit your tastes. I usually use chicken broth, but you could use vegetable or beef broth. I don’t use bouillon cubes or granules because they are mostly salt, but I have found a concentrated broth paste called Better Than Bouillon that I use often. It is still pretty salty, but as long as I don’t add any extra salt, it works. I use a small amount of olive oil, but you could use more, or use melted butter. And you can get all crazy and add things like mushrooms, onions, shallots or any other sautéed vegetables you like if you want something that goes beyond the simple version I have here. Be sure to post in the comments if you come up with a variation you want to share.

Crunchy Rice
From The Cook’s Life
Serves 4-6

Use a smaller dish for more fluffy rice and fewer crunchy parts; use a larger dish for more crunchy parts and a smaller amount of fluffy rice.

1 ½ cups jasmine or basmati rice
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat the broth to boiling. Grease a 9 by 13 inch, or slightly smaller, glass or ceramic casserole dish. Spread the rice in an even layer and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the minced garlic. Add salt and pepper to taste (you may need little or no salt, depending on how salty your broth is). Pour the hot broth over the rice and stir gently. Bake rice for 40-45 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed and rice is lightly browned on top and brown and crispy around the edges. Serve hot. This is best the day you make it.

Download the recipe here.

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