Not many families stop and marvel at their side dishes, especially when they are as humble as rice. But the other night our crunchy rice made us do a double take. Each rice grain on the top of the casserole was standing on end, with golden brown tips rising above the surface. We stared a minute, wondered how it happened and took a few pictures before digging in. There was some discussion on how, and why it happened, but we came to no conclusions.
I make rice fairly often as a side dish, and I make crunchy rice when I want to get everything in the oven at one time. That night I used the last of my Texmati rice (a trademarked brand from Rice Select. Worth picking up if you see it in the grocery store). I needed just a bit more rice, so I used a couple of dribbles and drabs I had stashed in the freezer at some point – about a tablespoon of Arborio (now why didn’t I just throw that in the pot instead of saving it?) and about a third of a cup of basmati rice from Trader Joe’s.
I was in a hurry, and I’m not sure if I stirred the rice after I added the hot broth. I also used a deeper dish than normal, hoping that more of the rice would be fluffy and it would keep better for leftovers. When I use my usual shallow dish the rice gets nice and crunchy, but it is like eating little hard pellets when reheated the next day.
I’m not sure if the changes I made led to our little rice grains standing at attention, or if it was just a fluke. But whatever caused it, it was pretty impressive, at least to us. What can I say? We are food nerds.