I was raised on brown rice, but never liked the tough, chewy quality of it. Several years ago I had the bright idea of giving it a bit of a toast in the frying pan before cooking it. I used to use some oil, but now... a dry frying pan is all I use.
My mom was amazed when i shared this idea with her several years ago. She switched over to brown rice and my dad was none the wiser.
I've also shared this at our church vegetarian cooking class. I had no idea so many people needed this information!
Follow the basic directions below for perfectly fluffy brown rice. It will blow your mind.
Heat an 8-10 inch cast iron skillet, non-stick frying pan, or dutch oven over medium-high heat. You want a nice hot pan, close to smoking. A few drops of water should sizzle, dance and evaporate almost immediately when sprinkled in the pan.
Put the brown rice into the skillet. You do not need any oil or butter. Now, stir or shake the skillet frequently over the medium-high heat. The rice will start to brown, and you'll hear popping noises. This process is called "dextrinization". The heat is breaking down the tough outer shell of the rice. This makes the fiber shell crack open and soften, so the rice will be fluffy when cooked. Also, rice is a grain like corn, and some of the grains will actually pop like popcorn. This is normal and actually adds to the fluffiness after its cooked.
Continue to stir over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, or until most or all of the grains have turned a rich brown color and a sweet nutty aroma is rising from the pan. I discovered that if I shake it instead of stirring it, the dextrinized rice moves to the outside of the pan, and the undextrinized moves to the center. That helps you see better when its ready to put into your kettle or rice cooker. its ok if a bit of smoke comes from your cast iron skillet, but not from a non-stick.
Now pour the dextrinized (browned) rice into your rice cooker or kettle, add 2 cups water and a few shakes of salt, cover and let it cook until done. This cuts your cooking time literally in half. I also find that when I use a rice cooker, it takes less than 2 cups water, but just a tad less. You will get a yield of about 2 1/4 cups of cooked rice, and it will be perfect for straight eating, fried rice, stuffed bell peppers or sushi, or any other rice dish. Don't tell your husband... he'll never know!