Our recipe this week is actually more of a method that I turn to for feeding a crowd over and over again. I’m talking about rice! Rice is an essential part of so many of the cuisines of our participants so it’s a big part of our cooking week in and week out. It seems simple but it can be easy to mess up and when you have to make enough for a big crowd like we do with our family meals each week the old stove top or rice cooker method just won’t cut it. On top of this there are so many different types of rice and ways to flavor it that we have to take into account when building our meals and menus.
So, my method for making rice in this scenario is to use the oven! Not only does this allow me to cook a large quantity (I can make it hotel pans that’ll feed 30 people each) but it gives me consistent results, can be flavored in numerous ways, and is more forgiving than any stovetop method. It takes a bit of trial and error to get used to it but once you do you’ll never make rice for a crowd any other way! For example, you’ll find basmati rice takes just a bit longer and slightly more water than jasmine rice to cook.
Basic Basmati Rice for a Crowd – Feeds about 20
6 Cups Basmati Rice
8 Cups Water
Pinch Salt (optional)
1) Preheat oven to 350F
2) Place the rice in a large strainer and rinse thoroughly. This will remove excess starch so your rice doesn’t stick together so much. Allow to drain 5 minutes.
3) Meanwhile, place the water in pot and bring to a boil. I actually just fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, and then measure out the amount I need.
4) Spray a large roasting pan (I use a hotel pan) with nonstick spray. Place the drained rice in the pan along with any spices or salt
5) Pour the boiling water over the rice and whisk together.
6) Cover immediately with aluminum foil and place in the oven.
7) Cook approximately 26-28 minutes for basmati rice (I find jasmine rice cooks a bit faster, 22-25 minutes or so and with slightly less water)
8) Remove from the oven. Using a small knife or fork carefully peel back one corner (watch out because hot steam will come out!) and check that the rice is done. If it is still a little undercooked but looks dry, add a bit of water and return to the oven for 4 or 5 minutes.
9) If done, set aside with the foil still covering and allow to sit at least 10 – 15 minutes. This will allow the rice to firm up a bit and fully absorb the steam trapped inside.
10) Remove foil and fluff with 2 forks before serving