Brown rice can be difficult to cook well: All too often, it is underseasoned and turns starchy and mushy. Plus, it takes a long time to cook, so stovetop recipes run the risk of scorching on the bottom.
While rice cookers can turn out perfect rice every time, most American home cooks don’t own one, so we hoped to use our Dutch oven and a moderate oven to approximate the controlled, indirect heat of these specialty appliances.
The thick, heavy cast-iron pot and enveloping heat of the oven promoted even cooking and eliminated scorching. A bit of sauteed onion offered an aromatic flavour boost as the rice cooked, and incorporating chicken broth into the cooking liquid provided savory notes.
We decided to brighten up the brown rice’s nutty flavour by adding frozen peas (we didn’t need to cook them; simply adding them to the pot while the rice rested was enough to warm them through) along with some fresh mint, lemon zest, and feta.
BROWN RICE PILAF WITH PEAS, FETA AND MINT
Start to finish: 1 hour, 45 minutes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
1 cup chicken broth
2 1/4 cups water
1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 F. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and well browned, 12 to 14 minutes.
Stir in broth and water and bring to boil. Off heat, stir in rice and salt. Cover, transfer pot to oven, and bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 65 to 70 minutes.
Remove pot from oven and sprinkle peas over rice. Cover, laying clean dish towel underneath lid, and let sit for 5 minutes. Add mint and lemon zest and gently fluff with fork to combine. Sprinkle with feta and serve.
Variation:Brown Rice Pilaf with Onions and Roasted Red Peppers
Increase oil to 4 teaspoons and onion to 2 onions. Substitute 3/4 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers for peas, 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley for mint, 1/4 teaspoon pepper for lemon zest, and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese for feta.