Rice, Rice Baby

The right way to cook this ubiquitous grain

Rice is both the backbone of many cuisines and the scourge of many home cooks.

So simple to make, so easy to screw up: The grain is so versatile that it's nonetheless worth mastering. Here's our foolproof technique.

Choose the right rice: For everyday rice, we like long-grain white varieties, such as Carolina Gold, basmati and jasmine. Avoid parboiled rice.

Rinse: Transfer the rice to a fine-mesh sieve and rinse well with water. The water will never run clear, but this step helps rinse some of the starch from the grain that can otherwise make it sticky.

Measure: We've seen seasoned cooks measure rice and water by eye. Since we've made many a pot of rice that was either too mushy or too dry, we prefer to measure both the water and the rice carefully. Remember this ratio for long-grain white rice: 1 cup rice to 1½ cups water.

Absorb: We prefer the absorption method, where a measured amount of rice is cooked in a measured amount of water until the grains soak up the liquid. In a heavy-bottom saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring the water and rice to a boil, stir once, then cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 12 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let stand, covered, for at least 10 minutes but as long as 30. Uncover, fluff the rice with a fork, then recover and let stand 5 minutes more. Serve.