Why You Should Swap Water For Beer When Boiling Rice

Home cooks should consider rice as a culinary blank canvas. While many beginner chefs write off this staple as a plain dish that only requires some water and a dash of salt, there are myriad ways to make plain rice stand out on its own. From the lemon juice hack that instantly fluffs up rice, to adding a little butter or sesame oil, there are many ways to augment these edible grains. Most people look to their spice rack when they want to maximize the taste of their ingredients, but if you're working with rice, try boiling it in beer instead of water.

Like many other grains, rice easily soaks up moisture during the cooking process. This allows it to easily infuse with whatever flavors are in the liquid you use to make it, and many recipes, such as pudding, already employ beverages like milk. The deep, earthy taste of beer easily makes it a great pairing for rice, even if most chefs overlook it as a cooking broth for this starchy food item.

Cook with ales to maximize the flavor of your rice

While you might be enticed to pull out any beer from your fridge for your next batch of rice, there are a few things you should keep in mind when making this booze-infused meal. Because many rice variants tend to have light hints of nutty or floral flavors, you'll want to brew this grain with a beer that augments these notes. Ales work great for cooking rice, because their heartier flavors complement grains nicely, although a light pilsner works just as well. You'll want to stay away from bitter variants and hops in general, as you can easily overwhelm the grains with unpleasant flavors.

There are many unique ways to incorporate beer into your cooking, so don't be afraid to incorporate it into other dishes that you might be using rice to accompany. Your leading protein dish should be your best way to incorporate whatever ale or lager you used for your rice, as many dishes already treat alcohol as a marinade or broth for meat.

Tips for making your beer rice shine

Beer has a strong flavor, which can be intimidating to use in a dish as subtle as rice. If you're worried that the alcohol might overpower your dish, try using a lighter-tasting brew, or dilute your broth with water or stock prior to cooking. You can also add other seasonings and aromatics to your broth to make your beer rice the star of any lunch or dinner. If you want to shake up the texture of this dish as well, consider adding garnishes such as corn or mushrooms.

If the cost of using a few cans of beer for rice concerns you, don't worry. Much like cooking wine, you don't have to buy expensive ales or lagers to enjoy this meal. Just don't use any leftover beers you're not fond of, as you want to give this dish a chance to shine. You'll also want to stick to uncooked rice, as instant varieties won't give you the opportunity to properly boil off your beer broth's alcohol.