Saturday, January 7, 2012

Rice Cooker Adaptations for Other Recipes

Rice cookers are wonderful appliances. The fuzzy logic switches stop things from cooking whenever the temperature goes over boiling- so it's nearly impossible to burn things. Since I've burned dry beans approximately seven million times this is wonderful. They're also safe to leave running alone and use a fraction of the power or gas that a burner does. I often leave the bean cooking part of a recipe cooking in the morning, and then return to add the final touches to the recipe. It's easy! It's cheap! It makes beans a reliable last minute meal! It's magical!

I should be getting paid to shill these.

The Moros and Cristianos recipe- black beans and rice cooked together- can be modified thusly: Cook one cup of black beans in the rice cooker with four cups of water for about an hour. (It might be more like an hour and a half.) When the beans are tender, add 1 cup of short grain brown rice and 1 and 3/4 cups water and cook again. (If you're using other rice, add a cup of that and as much water as your rice cooker recommends.) When it switches off, taste it. If something's not done, add another half cup of water and run the cooker again. The original recipe involved a mire poix and hours of simmering- now I usually garnish this with some kind of salsa cruda and an egg and call it dinner. (Serves two adults with a leftover breakfast. Adjust recipe accordingly.)

When I wrote the recipe for Annapurna dal, I complained that I took terrible photos. I haven't improved. Some things have changed: I'm now convinced that mung beans make the best dal- the very best- although lentils are fine too. I put a cup of legume into the rice cooker, I add several cups of water, and I wait about half an hour. While waiting, I chop an onion and saute it over low heat with half a teaspoon of salt and a good glug of oil. Near the end, I add half a teaspoon of curry powder and half a teaspoon of cumin. (One could caramelize five or six onions, and then keep them in the fridge for super simple- rice cooker only meals.) I mix everything together. There's no need to puree it, because things will handily reduce themselves to sludge. I eat it with leftover brown rice, yogurt, or lime pickles. (I have yet to learn to make these lime pickles) I often throw frozen or fresh broccoli into the steamer basket for five of the minutes that the beans are cooking. (Not the last five, because then I miscalculate and the broccoli turns to mush.)

Here are other rice cooker bean recipes that don't require adaptation: Chilean lentil soup and hummus.

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