Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Crockpot Wednesday: Fragrant Long-Life Brown Rice with Sweet Potatoes


Rating: 3.5/5

I was contacted by the California Rice Commission and asked if I might consider doing a post about their rice. I said I would be happy to if I could find one that would fit into my Crockpot Wednesdays. They sent me some brown rice and some information about the rice that is grown in California. Contrary to some bloggers, I have no problem with connecting to different food companies and organizations as long as it is a product I use. After all, I often find them to be educational opportunities. 

For instance, rice over the decades has changed to be more water efficient. Newer rice varieties, clay soil, and farming innovations have reduced the amount of water needed to grow it. In fact, they have been able to calculate that it takes about 16-25 gallons of water for a serving of rice, the same as for many other crops and even, water per acre, as your front lawn. 


The rice fields are also important for preservation of bird species such as the long-billed curlew and the whimbrel. At least 230 species use the fields, 31 of which are particularly watched for conservation. As mankind infringes more and more on natural habitats, most of the historical wetlands are now gone. But their loss is somewhat made up for by the rice fields creating alternate wetlands for the wildlife to find refuge. 

In my own kitchen I actually seldom use rice. I've turned a lot to other whole grains and save rice for when I go out to dinner. If I do use rice, it's always brown rice. I want the nutritional and fiber punch provided from that preserved bran layer. 

Something I didn't know was that brown rice is best stored in the refrigerator and used within 90 days. After it is cooked, it can be refrigerated in an airtight container for a week. Guess I've been keeping it too long in my countertop jar. 

Cooking rice in the crockpot is not something that you can leave on all day. Leaving it all day will create either mushy or dried out rice. It is best to cook it when if you have a timer on your cooker or you are able to turn it on three hours before you need it. 

This recipe by Mai Pham was provided to me in the literature the Commission sent me. I figured I just see if it would work in the crockpot.  You do need to start off on the stovetop, but after you saute the onions and add the spices, you can transfer everything to the crockpot and set it on high for 2-3 hours. It's delicious on its own, but I served it with tilapia and asparagus for a full meal.



Fragrant Long-Life Brown Rice with Sweet Potatoes 

2 T          vegetable oil
2/3 c      onions, chopped
1 T          minced garlic
2 t           curry powder
1 t           turmeric
2 1/2 c   chicken stock
1 c           California brown rice
1 c           sweet potato
1/2 c      golden raisins
1 t           cardamom
2 ea        cinnamon stick
1 ea        salt to taste
6 ea        whole red chiles
2 T          cilantro


Heat oil in heavy-bottomed saucepan over moderate heat. Add onions and garlic and stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add curry powder and turmeric and stir until fragrant, another 20 seconds. Add chicken stock and brown rice and bring to a boil. (If using a rice cooker or crockpot, transfer onion mixture, rice and water to the cooker at this point and cook according to manufacturer’s instructions. I cooked mine for 2.5-3 hours.) Bring rice to a boil, and then stir in sweet potatoes, golden raisins, cardamom, cinnamon sticks and salt. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until rice is done, a total of about 35 to 40 minutes. Stir in dried chilies and cilantro and serve immediately. 
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