Pressure Cooker Brown Rice
Use the pressure cooker for brown rice – half an hour, start to finish!
I may have mentioned, two or three (or fifty nine) times, that I have a very small kitchen, here. This building was one of the many that sprang up abruptly in the late ’40s to house returning veterans, and while the construction is excellent, some of the design is not well thought out.
The worst is my teeny, tiny “efficiency” kitchen. The concept was that it was easier for a woman to work without having to move more than a step or two from sink to stove to counter to refrigerator. And after all, she would use all these modern frozen dinners and boxed mixes! It wasn’t as if she would ever really need much counter space… or more than a saucepan.
But I cook.
So – there was this electric pressure cooker. It’s a long story, but I was given it… and I saw people doing interesting things with one, and it seemed worth trying. But I was stashing it in the closet, and setting it up on the dining table, and that didn’t exactly encourage use. Well – what could I move to make room?
I have a small stand that held the coffeepot and the rice cooker. The two appliances I used every single day. Rice. Of course I could still cook brown rice in a saucepan, I had done so for years, but it was so much easier to set it and forget it… and I loved the timer so that if I got home late, it didn’t have to take an hour before we could eat…
What about cooking brown rice in the pressure cooker? So I did that, following the directions that came with the pot, and we thought it was awful. Soggy and overcooked. Then I tried a few other (and remarkably different) measurements and timings I found from other sources, and still didn’t like it. I was about to give up…
But then I remembered my old Diet for a Small Planet cookbook – and that Frances Moore Lappé had raved about using a pressure cooker to cook brown rice and beans – putting the rice in a pot inserted in the cooker. Tried that – better, not as soggy, but still not quite there… And I looked at Hip Pressure Cooking (which I find to be a very useful general source) and tried their trick of releasing pressure after ten minutes. Still overcooked…. So – shorten the time, Anne!
I did – and I’ve been making it this way a couple of times a week since early last summer. It takes half the time of the rice cooker. (And that includes time to come to pressure!) I’m sold.
The essential problem with rice or beans in a pressure cooker is that they break down and get starchy in the furiously boiling water – and then they foam and get soggy and gloppy, and you need too much water because there has to be water boiling to make steam to maintain pressure. The pot in pot method solves that, as you have clear water boiling into steam for pressure, and the food cooks in the correct amount of water. (I use the pot in pot for beans, too – I’ll write that up, one of these days.)
First, of course, you need the insert. The shape is a bit tricky, as it needs to be deeper than it is wide, and most bowls are the other way around, and handles get in the way. It also, of course, must be heatproof. I like stainless steel best, but was using Corningware casseroles for a while – I know people use Pyrex, too. (Not affiliated, yadda, yadda – they’re just kitchen standards in the American kitchen, and people know what I am talking about.) I was lucky – while I was fooling around with alternatives, a downsizing friend offered us a set of nesting stainless bowls – I grabbed them! They fit perfectly.
I have seen directions to place your insert on a trivet so the water can flow underneath it, in contact with the heated area. I did that originally, but have found that, with the shape and material of this bowl, it does not seem to matter. I would probably still do it if I were using the ceramic again, though – or even had a wider base.
The basic recipe is one third of a cup of brown rice and one half cup of water in the insert per cup of cooked rice. I wrote this up as enough to make four cups of cooked rice, which will be a good amount for most families (and is the least I ever make – I like to have cooked rice on hand for later meals.)
All this introduction, but the recipe itself is easy. Put a six cup insert into your pressure cooker. Place one and one third cups of brown rice in the insert. Pour two cups of water into the insert, with the rice. Pour at least a half cup (or a little more – you don’t need to measure this precisely) into the pressure cooker pot, around the extra insert pot you have added. (Some of that water ends up in the rice – the reason the proportions above look odd.)
Close the pressure cooker, and set the valve to closed. Set it to High pressure, and set the time to ten minutes. It will take, in my experience, something under ten minutes to come to pressure, and then cook for that ten minutes.
When it beeps, set a separate timer for another ten minutes, and leave the pressure to start coming down naturally. After ten minutes, use tongs or something long to release whatever pressure is left. Then open the pot.
If you don’t get to it at once, don’t worry – a minute or so won’t hurt anything. If you don’t get to it at all, and the pressure fully releases naturally, your rice will be a little soft and overcooked, but not burned or anything – it’s not that big a deal… Which makes this a good method if a child, or something on the stove is apt to claim your attention at the crucial moment!
You can now serve it at once. I usually like to give it another minute or so to finish reabsorbing water – I find the texture is a little better – but that’s optional. Half an hour from pouring the rice in to spooning it out – pretty good for brown rice!
Now, I use an ordinary supermarket medium grain brown rice, and I’m getting the results I had with a rice cooker that had a setting for brown rice (and they’re hard to find…) Short grain rice comes out the same as well. I have not tried a good long grain rice, looking for fluffy dry grains – I never cooked that in the rice cooker, either, preferring a pilaf technique (and that’s not really our staple rice.) Let me know if you do try that, and what you think of it!
Pressure Cooker Brown Rice
- 1 1/3 c brown rice
- 2 c water
- extra water for pot
- Place a 6 cup heatproof insert pot in your electric pressure cooker.
- Put rice and 2 c water in the insert.
- Pour 1/2 c of water in the pressure cooker pot, around the outside of the insert pot.
- Close pressure cooker, close valve, set to High Pressure, set to 10 minutes.
- When it beeps, allow 10 minutes for the cooker to release pressure naturally. At the end of 10 minutes, release any remaining pressure manually.