Cooking Grains

Most grains are cooked by one of three cooking methods:the simmering method, the pilaf method, and the risotto method.

Simmering Methods

The most common method for cooking rice and other whole grains is to place the washed grain in a heavy pot with the right amount of water or other liquid to hydrate it, bring it to a simmer, cover, and cook slowly until all the water is absorbed.The exact amount of liquid needed varies considerably, depending on these factors:

1. The type of grain, its age, and its moisture content.

2. Tightness or looseness of the cover (degree of moisture loss during cooking).

3. Desired moistness of the finished product.

Because of all these factors, it is difficult to be precise when determining how much liquid to use.It is better to add too much liquid than too little.With too little moisture, the grain will not cook to tenderness. If a little too much is added,remove the pan from the heat, keeping it tightly covered, and let it stand for a few minutes. Liquid remaining in the bottom of the pan is likely to be absorbed. If there is much excess liquid, drain it off.

A second method, called the pasta method, can be used.This method is called the pasta method because the item is cooked in a large quantity of water and drained.This method is good for producing separate, unsticky grains. However, some nutrients are lost in the cooking water, so chefs disagree about the value of this method.

Procedure for Simmering Rice and Other Grains

1.

For whole grains, wash the grain in cold water as necessary. Drain.

2.

Combine the grain with the proper amount of water or other liquid in a heavy saucepot. Bring to a boil. Stir.

3.

Cover and cook over very low heat for the proper cooking time, depending on the grain.

4.

Test for doneness. Cook a few additional minutes if necessary.

5.

Remove from the heat. Drain excess liquid if necessary. Let stand, covered, to allow moisture to be absorbed uniformly by the grain.

6.

For rice and any grains that stick together, fluff with a fork and turn out into a hotel pan to let steam escape and stop the cooking.

Variation: Pasta Method

1.

Drop the washed, drained grain into a large pot of boiling, salted water.

2.

When just tender, pour into a strainer and drain well.

3.

Place in a hotel pan. Cover and steam dry in oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or leave uncovered and place in a steamer to steam dry.

Simmering Meals and Cereals

Procedures for cooking meals and cereals such as polenta and oatmeal differ somewhat from procedures for cooking whole grains. Cracked or flaked cereals such as rolled oats consist of large particles.They are usually stirred into boiling water. Because of the size of the particles, there is little danger of lumping.

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