For a long time, I was one of those otherwise-competent cooks who could not make a pot of rice to save her dinner. Then I ate a seriously restricted diet for six weeks to try to nail down some food sensitivities and rice was one of approximately eight foods I was allowed to eat, so I learned to make white rice on the stovetop. Brown rice continued to elude me, though. It took forever. If it wasn’t burnt, it was mushy. Or crunchy. Or sometimes both. And then a miracle occurred: someone taught me to make brown rice in the oven.
This recipe isn’t perfect: it still takes forever. I’m not sure there’s any help for that unless you’re willing to abandon your principles for converted rice (a move I don’t recommend if you care about rice texture). But if you are afraid of rice — or even if you’re not — it is the one for you. It takes ten minutes of attention and an hour of waiting, and best of all, it comes out perfectly every single time.
A word about pans: I have successfully made this in both glass and stoneware pans. I have attempted it in metal pans several times and have never gotten good results: the pan itself gets so hot that you end up with crispy rice in the corners, and no matter how carefully you scoop it out, you always end up getting some mixed in with the good rice and aaaaargh. Also, if you are cooking for more than a couple of people, you can double the quantities and bake for the same time in a 9×13 baking dish.*
1 1/2 c. rice**
2 1/3 c. water
Put the water in a saucepan or tea kettle and bring it to a boil. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 F and put the rice in your square baking dish.
When the water boils, pour it over the rice and immediately cover the pan with foil. You want to make sure it’s really sealed so the steam stays inside. Heavy-duty foil is awesome here; if you use lighter stuff, you might want to do a double layer.
Stick it in the oven (carefully, right? because of how the pan is full of boiling water?) and bake for an hour. Remove the whole thing from the oven and then pull off the foil, watching out for steam escaping when you first open it. Fluff with a fork before serving.
*I know someone is going to ask me if you can freeze this. The answer is “it depends.” Some people claim that frozen brown rice (cooked, cooled, and frozen in plastic bags) is totally fine, while others find the texture of rice frozen at home to be unacceptable. I am very picky about rice texture, so I don’t freeze mine, but if you do, tell me how it works!
**I can often get brown basmati at my supermarket, and I like it quite a bit. Failing that, I find long-grain to be the best general-purpose rice.