Plain Long-Grain Rice

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Preparation info

  • Makes about

    5½ cups

    • Difficulty


Appears in

Seductions of Rice

By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Published 1998

  • About

In the Carolinas and in Cuba, plain rice is always white and fluffy, the standard most Americans still follow for rice cooking. That texture depends on a good long-grain rice, cooked with a little salt and coated with a little oil of some kind after cooking. Even if you are in a hurry, take the time to let the rice stand for ten minutes after cooking to “steam” (in South Carolina parlance), then add butter, oil, or drippings, stir or fluff gently, and serve. The resting time gives the starches in the grain time to firm up so that it emerges fluffy and with each grain separate.


  • 2 cups Carolina or other American long-grain rice
  • cups water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter, bacon drippings, or olive oil


Wash the rice thoroughly and drain in a sieve. Place in a heavy medium pot with the water and salt and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the rice from the heat, wrap the lid in a cotton cloth or tea towel, place on the pot (to absorb the steam), and let stand for 10 to 20 minutes. Remove the lid, add the butter, drippings, or oil, and stir gently with a fork to mix. Replace the cloth-wrapped lid and let stand for another 10 to 20 minutes before serving.


The same fluffy result can be achieved by cooking the rice following the directions in The Carolina Rice Kitchen: Place a large pot of water on to boil. Sprinkle in the rice and salt and bring back to a boil. Cook until just tender, then drain the rice in a sieve, place it back in the pot, and cover tightly with a lid wrapped in a cotton cloth. Place over low heat to steam for 30 minutes. Drizzle on a little butter, or melted drippings, or oil and fluff gently with a fork before serving. This is very like the method used for gobindavog.

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