2017 Update: I've added a One By One video extending the use of this rice cooker beyond couscous, oatmeal, and brown rice to eggs... Yes, eggs! For my tips on cooking these dry goods, and the eggs, check out How To Make Hard Cooked Eggs In A Rice Cooker Using The Steamer Basket.
Original article: Anyone else out there ever throw away a pot because the brown rice stuck to it like cement? cooked oatmeal until it was a mushy mess? dried the color right out of the couscous? I have found the answer and it's a Rice Cooker. Simple to use, quick results, fast clean up! What else could one ask from this must have kitchen gadget? What about the cost, you ask? There is a make and model to fit every budget.
A rice cooker makes eating healthy easier since brown rice and other grains are a snap to cook. At least that is what I kept reading in magazines. Since I was avoiding recipes that called for long grain or brown rice, I decide to give one a try. After some research, I bought the Cuisinart 4-Cup Rice Cooker it is mid-priced and mid-sized. BUYING TIP: Some rice cookers are much larger than others, so think about your meal portion needs, AND storage capacity BEFORE purchasing (see this brands' models options in the ads below).
Most are sold with a "special rice measuring" cup that you use to measure out the dried grains. You then use a regular household measuring cup to add the correct amount of water. Each one comes with grain/water measuring instructions that should be followed for maximum results. Simply add the grains, then the water, cover, turn on, and while you are preparing other parts of the meal, the rice cooker is doing the work for you. Poof, in no time you have fluffy rice ready to plate!
6 Handy Tips To Cooking Great Grains:
1. Add Fat: What? If you thought I said this was healthier, it is; but most instructions call for some fat to be added. I have tried cooking rice, oatmeal, and couscous without it and the cooker seems to overflow. Adding a pat of butter to oatmeal or a teaspoon of olive oil to rice or couscous helps resolve this issue.
2. Top Steamer: If your model has one, it is a handy addition to the process. NOTE: If you put frozen vegetables into the top steamer, you MUST decrease the water added to the rice. The water from the frozen vegetables drips down as they steam increasing the amount of water the rice has to absorb. I found decreasing the water by a quarter cup works - this depends on the amount of vegetables to be steamed.
3. Couscous Hint: In case your instructions don't include couscous directions, use 1 "rice" cup of couscous to 1 1/4 cup of water.
4. Herbs: Throw in fresh herbs with the rice or couscous. Basil, dill, thyme, rosemary, chives, parsley are all loaded with vitamins and this is a great way to add them to a dish.
5. Seasoning: Salt, pepper, and perhaps a shake or two of hot sauce to add extra zing to rice or couscous. Add with the water and stir.
6. Oatmeal: Good old-fashioned Quaker Oats are easy to cook but do take approx. 15 minutes for about 2 cups. Add cinnamon, dried cranberries, raisins, walnuts to this heart healthy breakfast. Make the coffee while you wait!
So forget about standing over a hot stove stirring tricky wild rice for 30 minutes only to discover it isn't completely cooked. Make eating healthier a priority, but help yourself make it easy, try a rice cooker.
If you already own one, what brand do you have? This is the rice cooker I own (pictured below). Can you add any tips or hints? Share your tips with other cooks.