Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Take the Cannoli, Leave the Risotto

"As more varieties and better qualities of brown rice become increasingly common, it’s growing clear that you can do pretty much anything you want with this less processed version of the world’s second-most-popular grain. (You guessed it: corn is numero uno.)"

—Mark Bittman wants to take away the last of your white rice, like the well-intentioned killjoy he is. We await his seasonal take on "candy quorn" with bated breath.

50 Comments / Post A Comment




@JanieS Jinx. I came here to say the same thing. What are we doing without rice, people?


@JanieS And sadly, bugs.


@Trilby Thankfully, washing the rice alleviates both of these problems. (Washing rice is a PITA.)


@JanieS Wait, I thought you couldn't wash away all the arsenic?? Bring me back my precious carbs!


@Edabelle You can wash away enough of the arsenic. (At least as far as my celiac-having self is concerned. Can't eat corn tortillas EVERY day.)

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

California rice has a lot less arsenic than Midwestern rice, check the label!

@JanieS Have you tried a rice rinsing bowl? It's got bumps on the bottom and a strainer on the side. Not much more than $5 at an Asian grocery. Less than a minute of noncommittal rubbing will get the water to run... not clear but clear-ish, which is enough for me.


@Bus Driver Stu Benedict I ... should really check that out. I am in the land of Asian groceries, after all.

baked bean

@Bus Driver Stu Benedict Asian grocery stores are my favorite grocery stores. So many great items to be found.


So well-written! Loved it!@t


I'm just so happy that I have real risotto for lunch today.

apples and oranges

Times like this I'm happy my hippie parents raised me on brown rice so that I don't have to (feel obligated to) give up a food. Risotto on the other hand... one of my hippie parents is Italian, so you can take my arborio away from my cold, dead hands.


@kangerine All of this.


@kangerine I wasn't raised on brown rice (gross fluffy American white rice, which made the transition easier since I wasn't anxious to keep eating it), but I loveee it now that I actually tried it instead of just feeling obligated to eat it. It's like this weird trade-off where, once you become willing to give up your rice, you actually gain much better rice.

Judith Slutler

@themmases Right? It's just so good. I usually just bake mine. You can bake slivered almonds and sesame seeds and things into it too, SO DELICIOUS


@Emmanuelle Cunt Oh, my gosh. How do you bake it? In a casserole dish with water/stock? This is brilliant. Do you toast it first?

Judith Slutler

@Ophelia Exactly! Throw it in a casserole dish (I use a glass one) with 2 parts water to 1 part rice. Add a little butter or oil, a little salt, cover the dish with foil or put on the lid, bake for an hour. My oven, um, doesn't have a temperature dial, so idk how hot to bake it. Often I'll roast a clove of garlic at the same time just for general purposes, that also takes an hour.

I've never toasted it before, but that sounds good too!


"That’s only about 20 minutes longer than white-rice risotto.."
Or as someone who has been asked to "help stir" risotto at any point in their lives may say:
"Only...20...minutes...longer.... :("


@KatnotCat or do it the lazy college student way and throw it all in a rice cooker (cue people telling me that's not real risotto)


@KatnotCat I can't believe I'm about to say this, but: Rachael Ray changed my life when she explained that you only have to stir risotto for about 45 seconds to a minute each time you add in the liquid. So add liquid, stir, wait, repeat. You do NOT have to stir the whole time. Your wrists will thank you.


@KatnotCat This is a huge problem I have with Mark Bittman in general. When I first discovered him, I was really into him and I have two of his books, but he ALWAYS makes things seem easier than they are or acts like things are no big deal when they are (like, there will be a really easy recipe that looks great at first but then a few lines in he says that it's absolutely not worth making unless you have peak tomatoes that you grew in your own garden).


@OhMarie Yeah, I really dislike his attitude. Sometimes I forget that and try reading something he wrote, then get disgusted five lines in.


@schrodingers_cat @Ophelia

Ill have to run both of these by the house head chef.


@KatnotCat I can't tell the difference re: the stirring, but I have rather proletarian tastes, so.


Not hardcore enough. You're not hardcore until you live on nothing but lentils, quinoa, millet and amaranth grains. Brown rice? Please. That's bougie extravagance.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Emby Don't forget the spelt.


@Emby Psh - you call THAT hardcore? Real hardcore is growing your own organic lentils in your apartment windowbox planter with soil enriched by your in-home worm composter.


When are people going to realize Mark Bittman is a humorless scold?

Valley Girl

@Clare For moi, it took following him on twitter. Before that I didn't realize how disingenuous and/or obtuse he can be about food access :-/


@Clare Right? Every time I start reading an article by him I have an automatic irritation response and have to stop.


I don't know where Mark Bittman is shopping, but the only brown rice I can ever find is that wretched Lundberg stuff that's like 10% green and takes hours to pick over. When this better brown rice becomes increasingly common where I shop, I'll think about ditching the arborio.


@Fflora Asian grocery stores will usually have about ten kinds of brown rice. I don't know if that's where Mark Bittman is shopping (probably not) but on the West Coast, that's where it's at for rice.


@Fflora You pick out the green kernels?! I've never done that and it hasn't affected taste/quality.


@Fflora I use medium-grain brown rice as my primary rice. I like the taste better than long-grain white, which brings back nasty childhood memories of Minute rice + Country Crock with overcooked pork chops, yuck.

In our area, you can get medium-grain brown rice in 25-lb bags at the Japanese grocery store, or, if you don't have a car/insane biceps, in the bulk section at Whole Foods.


@Fflora Can you check the Hispanic Food section? For some reason, my grocery store stocks more kinds of rice alongside the Goya stuff than in the "rice" section. (also stocks the really nice, big martini olives there, but that's kind of tangential).


@Fflora Yanno, after making this peevish little comment I checked my grocery store last night, and what did I find but short-grain brown rice with hardly any green grains in it. It was even the Lundberg brand, but they must have stepped up their game because this is markedly better than what I've gotten in the past. So sorry, Lundberg Family, and, acorn squash risotto, I'm coming for you.


@cuminafterall I don't have Whole Foods near me but there is a big Asian market not too far away. I'll have to hit them up--I don't love the long-grain white rice either.


@SarahP Yeah, in my experience the green kernels can be chewy, like they never quite cook properly.

fondue with cheddar

I like brown rice but when you're eating with chopsticks white is so much easier.


I KNOW, Mark Bittman! I have been telling friends this for ages but no one ever believes me and think I'm a crazy health nut.


Is is me or is calling a 45 minute rice dish "a hurry up dish" a little ridiculous? I feel like I usually cook somewhat healthy foods, but almost always take about 25-30 minutes on cooking dinner, unless it's something like "Put this whole chicken in the oven forever."


@professionalmess The words you're looking for are 'delusional one-percenter'.

Judith Slutler

@professionalmess ehhhh, I don't know, it seems like Bittman prioritizes making large dishes that will keep well and have useful, versatile leftovers. As a grad student trying to make sure 3 meals a day are homemade and cost effective, I really appreciate his approach. For me personally it's better to spend 1 or 2 afternoons a week cooking and then be ready for the week, than to cook daily.


@professionalmess Yeah my hurry up dishes take, like, 10 minutes and most of that is microwaving frozen peas.

baked bean

@professionalmess I only count time I'm actively cooking. If I take 5 minutes prepping then leave something unattended to cook, that is fine with me. But, yeah, he's talking about risotto and I think you have to stir that quite a bit.
My favorite recipe for lazy/busy nights at home that includes brown rice:
Usually without chicken or turkey, twice as much brown rice (so it's a stand-alone meal, you know? I'm all about that). You could add potatoes or carrots or whatever. You could use any flavor of stock you want, or add any leftover meat you want. I am curious to try mushroom bouillon and add a few mushrooms toward the end, and maybe a dash of soy sauce :)
Leftovers work well to pack in my lunch to be microwaved at work or to be put in a thermos for eating between classes.
Anyway, brown rice is the perfect starch component of soup imo because it's filling, stays chewy, it's cheap, you don't have to cut it up, and it's not too bad for you.


I'm tryyyyyying, Mark Bittman, but brown rice always ends up tasting sort of...al dente to me. Like I can never get it as soft as white rice. Is that a common problem, or do I just suck at rice? Anyway, then it feels like I'm chomping on little bugs.

I have successfully switched to brown pasta, at least.

Judith Slutler

@Inconceivable! bake it! baaaaaake it! I can never get it well-cooked enough by boiling it either.

baked bean

@Inconceivable! Yes, baking it makes it softer, my grandma makes some kind of baked tomato-pimento brown rice. She used to use white, but then gpa had health problems and switched to brown.
BUT, while it is soft, it is not complete mush like the white kind she used to make. I prefer a little chew, so I think it is an improvement. But yeah, not nearly as chewy as the boiled brown rice.

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