Smoked Southwestern Chicken & Rice finished in Dutch Oven: Q-view, recipes, method & a few tips alon

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Smoking Guru
Original poster
OTBS Member
Aug 27, 2008
Hi again, everyone! I had an itch a couple days ago while at work. I wanted to smoke and cook in a dutch oven, but wanted something easy to put together. Before the end of the day, my gears were meshing and turning smoothly with an idea for something which was bound to be great eats. There isn't a ton of activity in the DO forums, so I thought I'd share some more of my experiences with everyone.

I'm by no means a DO guru, and I'm learning more each time I fire one or two up for a meal. This is my 4th DO run, all being briq fired, and the weather is always a factor when determining how much briqs to use. Also, my temp range for cooking has changed for each firing, with some being top/bottom heated and others being bottom only, so it does keep me on my toes with rough calculations. Today, I'll do a combination bottom only heated, then top/bottom for the finish.

Even with my very limited DO experience, it's all been great so far...well, all but the first run several months back, with a upside-down strawberry cake. It tasted great, but completely came apart upon inverting the DO for cake removal...lessons were certainly learned on that one. I'll work on more of the cake methods on a later date and hopefully have something worthy of sharing here. You can be sure of one thing though, I'll never give up!!! LOL!!!!! Now, rice on the other hand? Yeah, baby, I can cook rice, so, this dish should be a snap for this ol' boy!

Oh, and I forgot to mention, I got my hands on some pecan chunks a week ago, and I've been dying to try it, so today is the day...pecan/apple should be great with dark-meat chicken.

Come on along for another ride!


***for 5lbs chicken bone-in skin-on thighs (11 pieces), 6 quart brine container and a 6-qt dutch oven...serves 8-11 persons***

Remove chicken skin and trim lean, leaving bones in for added flavor to act as a shrinkage gauge during smoking. This also allows for less restrictive cooking guidelines (danger zone times/temps).

I'm using bone-in skin-on thighs for the start of this dish, so I'll have freshly uncovered meat for better color/surface moisture consistency, as skinless chicken
(when purchased as such) can tend to have dried areas, especially when previously frozen.

The dark meat may be a bit less healthy (higher calorie/cholesterol), but I'm after the smoke flavor in this dish, and it retains it's moisture better than white over longer cooking times as this will be.

I used a simple slightly reduced salt brine, with 1 Tbls/qt of total water:

1.5 quarts water in saucepan

1.5 quarts dilution water, cold (added after brine is heated through and removed from heat)

3 Tbls iodized salt (for dietary purposes)

1/2 stalk minced fresh celery

1/2 Tbls dried minced garlic

1/2 Tbls fresh ground black peppercorn

2 tsp cumin

1/2 Tbls dried rosemary

1/2 Tbls crushed red pepper

2 bay leaf

Heat brine to 180* + for approx. 10 minutes to release the ingredient's flavors, then remove from heat, add cold water and chill to <40* F. Add chicken to brine in non-reactive 6-qt container, making sure all meat is submerged. Cover and chill.

The strained brine ingredients:


This is a 6-quart covered food grade container...if you look closely you can see the etched marks indicating liquid can easily see the 3-quart mark (mid-right of pic) just above the water is the 4-quart mark...(about 3.7-3.8 quarts, just so you know the size container to use here):


Ready for the soak:


I started with partially frozen thighs, which worked really well to remove the skin by pulling it away slowly from the meat, then trimming the stiffer fat rather quickly. It took about 2 minutes to prep the 5lbs of thighs with a sharp 5" utility knife.

Brine chicken pieces for 3-4 hours.

Dry rub chicken pieces after brining and smoke at moderate-high humidity @ ~200-210* to an internal temp of 165*, then add to dutch oven rice mixture. I'll be running a wet pan close to the coal-bed in my gourmet for this smoke, with pecan and apple chunks providing the thin blue smoke.

I'll use a simple blend of:

1/2 Tbls chili powder

1 tsp ground black peppercorn

1 tsp coarse ground garlic

1 Tbls ground red bell pepper

1 tsp cumin

1 Tsp kosher salt (for some crunchy texture)

The dry rub quantity will be enough for a heavy single dusting on both sides for the (now approx 4.25lbs) chicken thighs. My theory is that with a single application of dry rub instead of two as I often do, the differing flavors contained in the brine and the pecan/apple smoke should come through nicely on the meat, while the seasoned rice mixture brings out more of the southwest flavors. And for that purpose, it's a bit finer grind than the rice seasoning blend:


Start diced carrots, rotels and rice in the dutch oven first (with water and spice blend), then add celery and onion after 60 minutes (it cooks quicker). I'm not worried how much the ro-tels cook, as they will impart tons of flavor into the liquids and rice...that's why they're here for the ride. I'll start the DO just prior to the start of smoking the chicken. The rice mixture should take approx 3-3.5 hours total, so with a reduced smoking temp, the chicken should be up to temp just as the rice is nearing it's finish.

The rice mixture for 12" 6-qt dutch oven:

2 quarts + 3 cups water for slightly aldente' rice (1 cup less for very aldente', 1 cup more for softer rice)

4 cups rice

6 stalks cross-sliced celery

2 cups small diced carrots

1/4 cup dried chopped onion

1 - 10oz can Ro-tel diced tomatoes and chilies

1 Tbls chili powder

1/2 Tbls fresh ground black peppercorn

2 Tbls ground red bell pepper

1 Tbls dried minced garlic

1 Tbls kosher salt (sub with iodized)

2 cups grated pepperjack (preferred) or, sub with co-jack, cheddar, mozzarella  

The rice seasoning is blended and ready:


My dutch oven firing/cooking method today:

Cover DO and build briquette fire (bottom only) for a 270-280* oven from a cold start using the (-)2 / (+)3 method, allowing for ambient temps/wind. A relatively slow cooking for tender but firm rice and veggies is what I'm looking for here. My typical stove-top rice steaming (w/o steamer) is a 30-minute process, and is very reliable.

Here, I am dealing with melding the flavors of the veggies/chilies/spices into the rice, so a 30-minute steaming will not work well. Overcooking the veggies is highly probably. The lower cooking temps will allow me to check the rice periodically as it nears the desired finished texture. A slow simmer just before adding the chicken pieces is desirable.

Today, I'm starting cooking with a very light breeze, snowing off and on, and ambient temps of ~16-18*F, which will be dropping into the single digits before dinner is finished and ready. My cooking will be protected in my outdoor kitchen, so I started with 6 briquettes for a baseline temp of 250* (dropping from 350* with 10 briqs), then added 3 to compensate for the ambient temp drop of ~50* below 70*F. So, I'm starting with 9 briquettes, and will add approx 1/2 that amount every 30-40 minutes to maintain heat as the briquettes burn down until the dish is finished.

Also, I like to lightly touch the sides and lid of the oven, or at least "palm" the radient heat near-by to get a true feel for how hot it's getting. This helps to estimate the rate at which the food is heating through and cooking without messing around with cracking the lid to insert a temp probe.

I'll slowly and gently stir the rice mixture about every 15-20 minutes for more even heating and to reduce to possibility of clumping/sticking.

The smoked chicken thighs (165* I/T) will be laid on top of the rice mixture, sprinkled with grated cheese, covered, and hot coals added to the lid for ~250* oven on top, and ~200-210* on bottom for 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melting down off the chicken should be a nice looking finishing touch, I think.

Let's get that DO fired up, shall we?

Water, carrots and seasoning blend is in and I'm just putting the hot coals to it now:


While the carrots are begining to heat through, I grabbed the brined chicken, drained 'em up and gave a good dose of the dry rub:


Here's a look at how the brine grabbed onto the membrane over the outer muscle of the thighs...should be a great flavor judging by the amount of color change:


Into the gourmet charcoal with pecan/apple, and about 3/4" water in the pan...cold today, so I need a bit more punch out of the coal bed to get enough usable BTU's...too much water just kills the heat...lower grate @ 4" below the upper grate with a mod:



Upper grate is in, so let's get smokin'...:


Well, smoke is on, and it's time for the rice, celery and onion to hit the DO...lots of free-water still, but that will change as the rice cooks and absorbes it's share:


Oh, and I time the addition of  a half-dozen hot coals under the DO just prior to adding the rice, so the shock of the cold food hitting the liquid wouldn't last so long. Cast iron holds it heat pretty well, but it's been my personal experience that adding large quantities of cold ingredients will zap any cooker:


About 2 hours into the overall rice project...rice is slightly firm, but almost ready. I want a slightly aldente' texture, just for a bit more chew than the typical rice. For me there's three textures of edible rice, being, mushy/soft, aldente' and very firm/chewy...I want about the mid-point between soft/aldente':


And, time a peek at the chix thighs while I'm at it...tons of steam showing with the now 5*F ambient temps:



154-156* on a couple I probed, so not long 'til they hit the rice...if I didn't know better, I'd say these still had the skin on...but they don't...hmm, I've smoke whole birds without the skin before, and they came out great...not dried out and a really deep smoke flavor...I think skin on birds is over-rated, unless it's fried and super crispy:


165* (+) and onto the rice...:


...then, I topped it off with coarse fresh grated mozzarella...nothing else in the fridge which met my liking, but this will be good as well:


...after looking things over, I suspected I had a few cups too much in the DO, but I took advantage of the domed center of the lid when placing the thighs and cheese...popped the lid back on, feeling it not resting tightly on the oven (yep, she's FULL), and tossed some remnent coals on the lid from the smoker...I rotated the lid about every 3-4 minutes, and...


...checked the bottom coal base one last time...still enough hot ashes and coals to finish it up...won't take long anyway, and the cast iron holds onto heat like a frieght train holds onto speed...even though the ambient temps have now dropped to 2*F, I'm confident that with this short stretch I have left, all will be just fine and dandy:


..I could feel the cheese sticking to the lid when I lifted it slightly just to rotate it, but within a few minutes I felt it release after the lid got a bit hotter, and, after about 15 minutes or so of lid rotation, the cheese had mostly settled in and dropped away from the lid, so all was well again.

..................................cheese are strings still hanging from the lid below...about 18-20" of about hang-time...ha-ha-ha!!!



For a moist rice, done to your preference, in the case of slow cooking instead of high heat steaming, there should be a bit of liquid left in the pot as there is here...tons of flavor here, so just mop some up with a small spoon full of rice, or ladle a bit of it out and drizzle it over the rice...mmm-mmm-mmm...also, you can see by the vertical wall that the rice is bonded just a bit, which can indicate it's degree of doneness to some extent if no oils/fats are added during cooking. A very soft rice will not slough off until fluffed with a fork after steaming, but this rice just needed a nudge to break it loose:


So, we have a nice, loose rice and veggie trio, topped with smoked thihgs and melted cheese for...


...another dynamite meal, all in one dish, from a relatively simple and easy two-cooker prep for the finish...:




If you look closely, you can see a slight smoke ring...deep, but faint in color:


The recipes I put together just today for this smoke and DO run are pretty simple and down to earth. Had I though about it a bit more, I could have added frank's red hot, chipotle hot sauce, datil hot sauce, or habenero hot sauce to the brine for bit more kick in the hinder. Of course the dry rub and rice mix could be kicked into over-drive with tons of other heat provoking fire-spices as well, but this has just a wee bit of spicy heat from the crushed red pepper in the brine. I think some finely chopped fresh jalapenos in the rice mix would be great, too. As you can imagine, there are countless variations which could be done with any of the three recipes, so have fun with it!

The chicken thighs had a deep spicy flavor from the brine, carrying itself very well. I hadn't really used brines alot in the past, so today I decided I'd put some extra touches into a brine to flow with the southwestern flavors, and this really came through with a nice spicy heat...not over-powering at all.

The smoke combo was very nice, and the dry rub being a chili/red bell pepper base, kept up with the brine and smoke to finish a truely unique flavor combination.

The rice, carrots and celery were all cooked aldente' with a light crunch in some of the celery, and a soft chew to the rice...very interesting texture variations, IMO...all in all, it made a great meal.

My wife said that the only draw-back was it was too smoky, but she's intolerant of smoked foods sometimes. I really, really liked the pecan/apple combo.

Anyway, I think I covered everything...if not I'll drop in some more notes...I had trouble keeping up with everything during today's smoke and DO run with pic/text uploads, so I may have forgotten a few tidbits.

Great smokes and dutch oven dishes to all! Enjoy!!!

Thanks for peekin'!!!

Wow that was A great read. Thank you for posting.. It  looks great I have been wanting to try something in a DO this just might have done it for me going to have to try now...
Looks delicious Eric!!

 Thanks for taking the time to share!



Once again you came up with a great meal & tutorial. I've been wanting to buy a DO & try a DO cook, and your tutorial may just have me going out & getting one. Thanks for sharing.

You never cease to amaze me, Eric!

This one isn't a thread---It's an extravaganza!

You keep outdoing me, but I think you're cheating---I'm betting you do your typing with more than one finger!!!!   

Darn good thing we live so far apart---Too much sampling would be going on!

Thanks for another great ride, and such a beautiful plate at the end!!!!

Awesome tutorial and great looking meal.  I rarely use my DO except when camping and I think you just inspired me to break it back out.

Thanks for the clear explanation of the rice, too.  Very helpful and informative.

Super job!
Looks delicious Eric!!

 Thanks for taking the time to share!


You're welcome Craig...jeez! That's quite the stack of DO's, and a chimney full of hot coals to keep 'em happy!!! I'm just guessing here, but, looks to be the makings for some serious cobblers, maybe corn-bread...oh, heck, the list of roasted/baked items is endless. I'll throw in the towel right now, 'cause for all I know, you could have something different in each one...roasting a chicken, beef chuck, beer-bread. OK, my mind is really starting to wander now...

Aaaaaaaaah, the beloved dutch oven!

Once again you came up with a great meal & tutorial. I've been wanting to buy a DO & try a DO cook, and your tutorial may just have me going out & getting one. Thanks for sharing.

Hey Al, once you start with DO's it will opened up a whole new world of outdoor cooking for's pretty amazing what you can cook in them with a bit of forethought. The camp/classic style with the rimmed lids (for coals) are the only way to go, IMHO...extremely versatile, so if you don't have a DO yet, I'd recommend the camp style. Mine (like Craig's pic above) have three legs, so you can build a fire under them on any relatively flat surface, rimmed lid, and bail handle so you can hang them over a fire if you want. Oh, don't forget a lid lifter (to remove or rotate the lid with hot coals on it) and lid can use the lids inverted on the stand as a concave griddle/fry pan over a charcoal fire.

Take your time and have fun it...there are tons of things to cook in DO's, so let yourself get overcome by a growing list...I just go with what sounds like a fun project at that particular point in time and let it happen...same thing goes for me with smoking or grilling, btw.

You never cease to amaze me, Eric!

This one isn't a thread---It's an extravaganza!

You keep outdoing me, but I think you're cheating---I'm betting you do your typing with more than one finger!!!!   

Darn good thing we live so far apart---Too much sampling would be going on!

Thanks for another great ride, and such a beautiful plate at the end!!!!

Thanks Bear! Yeah, we must have about...oh, without looking it up, close to 1,900 miles between us as the crow flies. Hmm, if I ran the calculations...naw, I don't think my shoulder could handle quarter-backing a hail-mary dinner ball quite that far, but it would be fun to try! Man, that's a lot of windage, elevation and earth rotation to plot out, would make scout snipers pretty envious, wouldn't it? LOL!!!

Oh, and I do type with four fingers and a thumb or two now and then, so I guess I kinda have home-field advantage on ya there. Although, I do have to back-track quite a bit for fingers seem to get a mind of their own sometimes...or maybe they have two left feet and just can't keep from stumbling on themselves...ha-ha!

That was a fun and easy dish to put together, and firing the DO isn't that bad as long you know the's actually quite fun, like learning how a new charcoal smoker likes to run, and keeping it happy. Heck, I think it's actually easier to keep a DO happy than it is for a smoker.
Awesome tutorial and great looking meal.  I rarely use my DO except when camping and I think you just inspired me to break it back out.

Thanks for the clear explanation of the rice, too.  Very helpful and informative.

Super job!
Thanks brother, I bought mine for a variety of uses including camping, disaster/severe storms, family reunions and just for fun at home...I'm having tons of fun with them, so I'm sure I won't mind using them out of necessity either, if an unfortunate situation does present itself. Anyway, DO's will be part of my pre-planning for the summer storm season.

Oh, and the rice cooking is somewhat of a specialty of mine. My wife and girls prefer minute rice, 'cause they just can't seem to steam rice without it sticking. It's all about water/rice volume ratios and time for the most part, but it can somewhat depend on the actual cookware/stovetop, elevation above sea-level, etc.
Wow that was A great read. Thank you for posting.. It  looks great I have been wanting to try something in a DO this just might have done it for me going to have to try now...
Thanks, as long as you catch the basics for firing them, they're a snap to cook with. NCDODAVE (member) posted a great beginners guide of sorts in the DO forums, and there are some other great articles on the web as well...Byron's seems to ring a some info from that site, and there are ton's of DO recipes there as well.

Have fun!
Great Idea and tutorial  

 Thanks! I couldn't resist sharing it with everyone...once I had the idea to put this dish together, it just seemed to flow so well that I just let it roll.

Another great post Eric!! Really nice looking meal!
Thanks Les! I had a blast doing this dish, and for the effort it took to put it together, well, it just seemed too easy to not try it.

Hey all, don't forget, cast iron is our friend! LOL!!!

Good eats, great smokes, and...uh, what do you call it when you dutch oven cook, anyway? Hmm...never thought about it, I guess.

Anyway, keep your cookers warm and happy!

Great post as usual Eric. I love the great tutorials you post. Thanks again
Dutch Oven Cooking is an art that i can't seem to master.

Great Job Eric!

That Meal Looks Absolutely Fantastic...What a great Q-View...Man talk about setting the bar high for Q-Views 
Thanks! I don't deliberately attempt to raise the bar, but I do like to share what I've learned in hopes that others will give it a try. Even for me, being a DO rookie, I'm finding it easy to incorporate something from the smoker with a DO meal. I've had a few more ideas for future meals come to mind today which I'll be delving into sometime in the near future, hopefully very near future. For now, I'll keep jotting notes and ideas down so they're not lost to my CRS. Man, so little time, and so many things to cook! If only I didn't have to work for a living! LOL!!!!!

Great post as usual Eric. I love the great tutorials you post. Thanks again
Thanks, I've been hitting new things alot lately, so I keep pretty busy sorting and uploading pics, but it's worth it to give anyone who's on the fence a little push, and a sense of direction on where to start to bring it all together. Since I've started cooking with DO's, man, it's a whole new world all over again!

Dutch Oven Cooking is an art that i can't seem to master.

Great Job Eric!

Thanks Todd!

Well, if you think of it as learning a new craft, like smoking, it should become an interesting, challenging and enjoyable way to cook. Just take it slow and easy...keep notes...learn good firing methods for the type of heat source you wish to use (charcoal briquette, hardwood charcoal, or open pit fire with bottom heat only for soups and stews).

If you want to use a recipe which is already published, look it over first before you commit yourself to trying it. If it looks too complicated (ingredients or methods), then it probably may not be a good starting point. Also, I would steer clear of recipes which seem to have missing info...sometimes prep methods aren't explained and can be cause for confusion, or the end result may not be what you expected because certain specific instructions for prep were not written up. Maybe it's a type of food or dish you're not familiar with at all. In that case, do you want to explore that avenue, or play it safe and try something more traditional?

Above all, keep the dish and prep methods simple while you learn the dutch oven firing...maybe something as simple as mac & cheese (with cubed ham and chopped onion, if you like?), just to help you learn how to heat the oven (and have some tasty grub when you're done). Then, when you become more comfortable with firing, you can expand your skills with new dishes and keep building from there.

Just like you said, DO cooking is an art, like smoking. Either you have the passion for it, or you don't...I'm hoping that you do, because the rewards (just as with smoking) are priceless.

Keep trying, brother! All it takes is for that one time when everything works out at the end...

My main short-coming is baking. Cakes, cookies, caseroles, corn bread, raised white/whole-grain breads...if it's made from scratch in an oven, chances are that I have not cooked it. But, with the dutch ovens I now have in my arsenal, I can change a part of that side of my cooking experiences. There have been a few times where I cranked out some sides or entree's from the smoker which would traditionally be oven baked, roasted or brazed on the stove top (smoked beans and chicken green chili was one), but that's just a small part of the fun of it all. I'm into outdoor cooking, and if it fits into (or I can make it fit) that criteria, it captures my interest. IMHO, if you can make a tasty side dish, entree' or dessert in a dutch oven with a solid fuel fire, you can be sure it would come out of a kitchen range oven in pretty fair shape as well. But then, for me, the mestique would be lost. My wife has commented on more than one ocassion about me going outside to fire-up a smoker or grill in (minus) -10* to -20* (or colder) weather to crank out some meat for dinner. She says "you're crazy", or "are you sure you don't want to just fry that?", or, "you can use the broiler in the oven, you know". No, honey, I'll be just fine where I'm going, and dinner will be delicious as always. Ha-ha!!!

The mestique and allure of the outdoor cooking venue is why we're all here on the forums, and it's also part of what inticed me into buying two large DO's before I really even knew how to use them. Heck, I didn't really even know what I wanted to cook in them, but I knew something would come to mind eventually, and I also knew that once I got rolling with DO cooking I would likely be hooked for life, just like smoking meats. That's why I say if you take it slow and easy, and it will all come together for you.

What I've been doing is just looking at what's in the freezer and pantry for ingredients, then tossing a rough plan together on what I can make with what I have. The strange thing is that when I have short notice to pull something off, that's when I seem to take the simplest of ingredients and build it up into a great meal. Sometimes, I don't have any plan before I start cooking...I'm just grabbing things for a look and decide if they'll be benefitial or not. Next thing I know, the fire is lit and something new and unique is on the horizon! The great thing about cooking with no published recipe is that I can toss out meals which may or may not be duplicated again by myself, but just having something different on the plate provokes more interest by the family at meal-time. Anyway, I guess that's the secret to what leads me down the paths I've traveled during my smoking, grilling and DO journeys...hmm, that was kinda deep...anyway, now you have a better sense of where many of my creations come from.

For those who are considering pulling the trigger on a DO (or two, as I did), or want to learn a good firing method, here's some DO briquette firing info which I use myself...the 2/3 method.

The DO briquette firing thread started by Dutch himself, with some replies about the 2/3 method is found HERE. The link Dutch posted is no longer valid, but the discussion in the the following replies is what you should be looking at.

The site I refered to in an earlier reply, Byron's, has tons of tips and info to help a beginner get well along the way towards DO heaven.

There's not an aweful lot of activity in the DO forums, but in time, I'll contribute a few tidbits, and hopefully there are others who can drop in some their finer DO runs for us to droll over...(there's gotta be some really dandy stuff out there somewhere that's been kept secret). I find the overall DO firing and cooking to be a very satisfying way to create a meal. It carries a high sense of accomplishment for me to be able to put together a good meal in one, similar to when I really learned what smoking meats (among other things) was all about. So, I guess I would have to say that DO's are my second hobby/passion, next to smoking.

Fun times ahead for anyone willing to start. I have plans made already for some serious combination smoked & DO'd grindage. I'm also considering a larger 8-qt 12" x 5" "deep" DO...yeah, like the two 6-qt rigs I already have aren't enough? LOL!!!

Hey all, here's one to remember...I'll give up my dutch ovens when you pry my cold, dead fingers from their handles...LOL!!!!!!!!

Looks Great Eric, Makes a person want to take up Dutch Oven Cooking...
Since you mentioned it as a skill you possess, it doesn't qualify as a thread hijack (even if it was a hijack, I'd still ask):  You said you're well versed in the mysterious art of preparing rice.  Could you sometime when it's feasible, lay down some words on the basics of cooking rice.  If I follow the directions, it comes out being near soup.    Obviously too much water.  But, perhaps some words of wisdom would go a long ways.  I love rice in all forms (fluffy, stir fried, etc)  but, well you know......I'd rather cook it myself.......  If it makes a difference, we prefer the Basmati Rice.

Since you mentioned it as a skill you possess, it doesn't qualify as a thread hijack (even if it was a hijack, I'd still ask):  You said you're well versed in the mysterious art of preparing rice.  Could you sometime when it's feasible, lay down some words on the basics of cooking rice.  If I follow the directions, it comes out being near soup.    Obviously too much water.  But, perhaps some words of wisdom would go a long ways.  I love rice in all forms (fluffy, stir fried, etc)  but, well you know......I'd rather cook it myself.......  If it makes a difference, we prefer the Basmati Rice.

Ha-ha! Naw, I don't see it as a hijack here, Dave! It's been a long time since I've even used most published methods for rice cooking...even those printed on the product packages. You obviously understand about having too much water, and what the result can be.

And yes, regarding achieving the texture you want with cooked rice, it does matter what type of rice you have in many cases. There are thre types of rice, being, long-grain, white, and wild. A sub-type of white rice is brown rice, being a whole-grain, or un-hulled rice (healthier choice of the two, with achewier texture and nuttier flavor as well). Par-boiled rice is a nothing more than a blanched rice, which removes the surface starches.

Dave, since you mentioned Basmati, it is a long-grain rice, which tends to hold onto starches more readily than other types of rice. What the starches will lead to is a sticky/pasty rice when cooked to a tender state, if not dealt with. For non-par-boiled rices, you should rinse in a strainer with cold, fresh water and gently stir the rice with your fingers until the water runs clear. This also gives you the opportunity to inspect the rice for debris before it's cooked and plated.

Some basics on rice:

Time permitting, soaking the rice for a few hours (after rinsing, if needed), or overnight like you would dry beans is beneficial as well. This will allow the grains to soak up a slight amount of water which in turn reduces cooking time, as when rice cooks, water absoption is one of the main components to the process. Soaking can also help the rice to begin expanding from moisture absorption, which in turn can give a more uniform texture throughout the grain. You may notice that some individual grains of cooked rice have a slightly chewier center (mid-section of the length of the grain), while the ends are much softer. This has to do with the thickest area not absorbing as much water content by weight during the cooking process. It all has to do with the thickness of material the water has to penetrate, and the resistance of the material to become penetrated. Allowing a longer period of time for the rive grain to be exposed to water allows more penetration/absorption.

For most any type of rice, you may find that a 2/1 water to rice ratio is recommended in many recipes for cooking...1 cup rice to 2 cups water or stock, or somewhere close to that ratio. That is a very good baseline to follow, however, the method of cooking can dictate certain changes in volumes, as well as the tenderness of the rice you prefer. Another factor which effects the water/rice ratio is when cooking a pre-soaked rice. A presoaked rice, less tender preference require less water, and vice-versa for unsoaked or more tender rice preference.

There are a four methods to consider when cooking rice as well:

1) What I would call a basic rice boil, which is nothing more than what most recipes may call for: boil water, stir-in rice, bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover, allowing to cook until you no longer hear water in the pot. This is more or less a rapid cooking method. This method is likely the most widely used in most household kitchens, and can be the culprit to some cooks having very limited success with their rice dishes. Water to rice ratio is crutial, and can be effected by elevation as can many other recipes for cooking. Higher elevation means the water boils at lower temps...this equates to longer cooking times, so actual timing of cooking rice can and will vary widely by geographical location (topographical, to be more specific).

2) Fried/roasted rice similar to the rice-a-roni, which is then cooked in simmering water. here again, water to rice ratios play a big role, however, you can stir-in small amounts of water into the pan if it looks to be too dry when nearing what should be finish. If too much water is used, there isn't alot you can do to remo=ve it without loosing flavor (ei: ladling out excess water).

3) Brazing, such as soups, stews, and rice and vegetable mixes as I made in the opening post here. This is what I consider to be a slightly more challenging method due to placing the different items into the pot a various times based upon the time you estimate them to require to cook. The benefit of an all-in-one rice dish as these are, is again being able to add a bit of water if it's getting too dry. If the recipe calls for 3 quarts water, you can always start with 2,5 and add more later.

4) Steaming is my preferred method over boiling when I cook rice to use as a base for chinese stir-fry, as an example. I do not have a rice steamer, and probably wouldn't use one if I had one available simply because a stock pot steaming method works just fine for me. I generally use non-soaked rice for steaming, due to time constrainsts, however I still get the benefits of a slower cooking method similar to brazing, which generally gives a more uniform textue as you would get when soaking the rice. I use a 2.5/1 water to white rice ratio for steaming to achieve a tender rice. Salt the water (if desired), bring to boil and stir-in rice. Return to boil, cover and remove from heat. Let stand for 30-40 minutes (depending on elevation, again). At almost 5,00 ft above sea-level, 35 minutes is about dead-on. Brown rice takes close to 40 minutes, and I use slightly less water to maintain it's naturally chewy texture without having water in the bottom of the pot when it's finished. The rice will be slightly cooled, but still steaming and hot to the touch. Simply fluff it up with a large fork (meat serving fork or similar), and serve. I use this method for 12-16+ cups of cooked white rice, so a fairly large amount...up to 20-24 servings.

Dave, if you want to try the basmati steamed as I descibed for white rice, I would follow the rinsing, etc., and use close to the same water ratio. The elevation will effect your standing time when it's actually ready to eat, but when using this steaming method, you basically can't screw it up. Once the pot is removed from the heat source, all the cooking stops when the water is absorbed into the rice, or the temperature inside the pot drops too low. I guess one thing to consider with this steaming method is that I'm usually cooking enough rice in a large enough pot for the absorbed thermal energy to continue cooking it after removal from the heat. Lots of mass from a few quarts of water alone, a larger pot and lots of rice. Considering that, if you were cooking for just a couple persons for one meal, than, reducing the heat to a simmer for the first 10-15 minutes (more for smaller, less for larger pots) and then removing would keep the smaller pot going long enough to finish cooking the rice before the pot cooled down. Basically a combination of boiling and steaming, but I think you'd be pretty close to target for a tender rice.

Let me know if I can be of further assistance.


Looks Great Eric, Makes a person want to take up Dutch Oven Cooking...

 Thanks Paul, that was the intent...well, sub-liminally, anyway...LOL!!!!!

Thanks for the info.  I'll have to learn how to scale back from your quantities, there just being the two of us, but in the meantime, there's always some to save for fried rice.  Altitude isn't a problem.  According to my gps, I'm about 36 feet above sea level, unless I go upstairs.  But I know what you mean about cooking at altitude.    Learned the hard way while traveling through Montana, Wyoming and Colorado last summer.  Kids, who live in Denver, thought it was funny.  Revenge is mine.  Really appreciate all the help.

You're most welcome, Dave.

Yeah, for smaller scales of rice steaming, you can start out as a boil, then remove from heat keeping covered. The trick is finding that sweet spot of boiling time for the volume of rice and water.

I can easily see where your kids got a giggle out of a sea-level cook try his hand at higher elevations. I have to remind myself of this everytime I visit my childhood stomping grounds...a drop from 5K to 1K or less can make for rapid cooking times when compared to what I'm accustomed to. Reheating pulled pork, sliced brisket, etc. in foil covered steam pans at our family reunion last august had me puzzled for a minute until I remembered the elevation change. I had my smoke vault loaded up with steam pans and probes in through the foil...temps clinbed pretty fast, I thought, and a drop of 20* in the chamber made for just about the right corrective measure.

Good luck on the's like DO's and smokers...kind of an art to cooking rice, like it's in it's own class of foods altogether. With a little trial and error, the learning curve should flatten out quite a bit. I think you're understanding the basics OK, so trying steamed vs boiled may be just the ticket.

Not many people understand how to steam rice without a steamer, or the benefits of cooking it that way, but that's my main method when I'm in the house helping put a meal together. The wife and girl's still think I have some magic trick or something for steaming rice. Maybe I need to do a bit of kitchen instruction? Not sure how that might look to them...Dad teaching Mom and his daughters how to cook rice...hmm...I better approach that one with tons of wisdom and a very light foot...ha-ha!

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