Saturday, February 26, 2011

How I Cook Long Grain Rice

Long grain rice was a principal staple of the south Louisiana diet when I was growing up, and was an accompaniment to almost every meal, much as potatoes are elsewhere in the United States. Mahatma Rice was the brand we always used at home, and until I was grown, I was not aware that there was any other kind of rice. At that time, Mahatma, which today offers a wide variety of rices, sold only the long grain variety that grew in the flat, moist farmland of Louisiana and east Texas. I still buy it occasionally, but the long grain rice that we have come to love is the Aromatic Carolina Plantation Rice that we stock up on each time we go to Charleston. It was first introduced to South Carolina in 1685 from Madagascar and was grown there until the Civil War. It was re-introduced in 1996 and a small quantity is produced every year. We buy ours from the shop of the Historic Charleston Foundation which sponsors the Charleston International Antiques Show we exhibit in each March, but it is also available from other sources.

Whatever long grain rice I have on hand, this is how I prepare it: (The bay leaves, a tip from Peter Patout, add a lovely touch of flavor.)

1 cup rice

2 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon of olive oil or butter

2 bay leaves

Put salt, bay leaves, olive oil or butter into two cups of water. Bring to a boil. Add rice.

Stir once, then cover and turn down the heat and let simmer for about twenty minutes.

When all the water has been absorbed, fluff the rice with a fork, then serve.

Serves 3 or 4

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