There are some dishes for which white rice is a perfect accompaniment. Meatballs and stir-fry are two dishes that come to mind. Before I met Giuliano I thought I knew how to make rice. I followed the instructions on the back of the package and it seemed to work. Sometimes I would end up scrubbing pots, but it really wasn’t THAT difficult.

As in most things “cooking”, meeting Giuliano (we’ve just celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary) changed my perceptions of rice. Giuliano uses carnaroli rice, the same type that he uses for risotto.  It produces a slightly sticky rice but we love its starchy flavor.  The same method also works perfectly well with Basmati or plain white rice.  He learned it from his grandmother, Marcella Hazan’s mother, Maria.

I must admit I was skeptical the first time I made it his way. However, it makes a difference, the rice is fluffy, tasty, and perfectly done. His method is quick, infallible, and makes a great base for any dish. Sometimes, 7-year-old Michela will eat it just by itself. We stir in some Parmigiano Reggiano and she is good to go.

Nonna Mary’s White Rice
From How to Cook Italian by Giuliano Hazan

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Total Time from Start to Finish: 45 minutes

Serves 6 as a side dish

2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups rice
2 1/4 cups water

1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Put the butter in an ovenproof pot and melt over medium-high heat. Add the rice and stir until it is well coated. Add the water and season with salt. When the water begins to bubble, cover the pot and place in the oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand, covered for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.