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Home » Practicing the basics: nutty brown rice

Practicing the basics: nutty brown rice

This is a simple side dish recipe that will forever change how you think about brown rice; it got my kids to be okay with brown rice as our everyday go-to rice variety at home.

We’re going to cook the rice like pasta; it’s faster and easier, and since we don’t need it to be sticky or clump there’s no reason not to cook it this way.

Suggested reading:

Makes about 3 servings. Time required: 35-40 minutes.


  • 2 quarts water
  • 3/4 cups short-grain brown rice
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cups mixed nuts, chopped
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg, grated or ground

Bring the water to a boil in a medium pot. Add the brown rice and bring back to a boil. Add the salt and cook at a full boil for 23 minutes. Drain in a fine-mesh strainer. Return rice to the pot, cover, and set aside.

Heat butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat until bubbling subsides. Add nuts and cook, stirring, until butter and nuts are golden brown, about 4 minutes. The bubbling is the water in the butter evaporating off; what’s left is fat and milk proteins. Once the water is gone, it can get above 212 degrees and the milk proteins can get hot enough to brown via the Maillard reaction. Browned butter is a divine flavor worthy of the effort, which really isn’t much; just watch it carefully after the bubbling subsides because it can turn brown very quickly — and then burn shortly after that.

Add rice and nutmeg to the skillet and toss to coat. Remove from heat.

Serve immediately.

Tips and suggestions:

  • You can use any type of nut you want, or a mixture. Cashews, walnuts and even peanuts are great. Almonds can also work well, but if you’re working with sliced almonds take care not to burn them: they heat up quickly.
  • You can try other seasonings too, to complement your main dish, other sides, or even the season of the year. This is a great warming dish for late autumn or winter, but there’s no reason you couldn’t brighten it up with some fresh herbs for spring (add them after it’s all cooked), or some spices to give it more kick in the summer (add them just as the butter is starting to brown, 30-60 seconds before you add the rice and nutmeg, to give them a chance to bloom).

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