You’ve made a delectable rice pilaf to go with a One-Pan Big Batch Beef Stew for dinner. All that’s left is to plate everything up. As you take the top off the pot, water pours from the lid onto the rice. And when you attempt to fluff the pilaf, all those beautifully separated grains are now clumped and gummy. How can you prevent this from happening again?
All you need is a kitchen towel.
Notes From the Test Kitchen
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While food cooks in a covered pot or pan, the evaporated water trapped inside condenses onto the lid. Eventually, those droplets are heavy enough to splash back down onto the food. The same thing can happen after a dish is taken off heat to rest, when steam from carryover collects on the cooling lid. While this works wonders for keeping Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts moist until ready to serve, it can be detrimental to fluffy rice.
So how can you avoid this watery disappointment? Simply drape the towel over the pot (careful of the flame!) and pull the corners of the fabric over the handle of the lid and tie to secure them. The towel will absorb excess water while your rice simmers away, ensuring fluffy, not clumpy, grains.
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And it works on more than just stovetop rice! Use this trick to keep the tangy biscuit tops on that Blueberry Grunt from getting gluey while they’re cooking, or to prevent moisture from saturating the light-as-air dumplings in our Lighter Chicken and Dumplings as they simmer and double in size. A kitchen towel can absorb excess water while food cooks, but it also works to keep resting food warm but not watery. For the perfect Oven-Baked Brown Rice, or Bulgur Pilaf, cover your grains with a kitchen towel as they rest. Remember, your rice doesn’t want to get rained on anymore than you do.