Baking rice
September 22, 2006 11:06 PM   Subscribe

How do you make rice for 40 people?

I need to make some plain white rice, about 30 to 40 servings. I think my best option is to bake it. I have no equipment in my leetle home kitchen to handle cooking this on the stovetop unless it is in many batches. I have seen a recipe that baked brown rice but I have no idea how to go about baking white rice. Has anybody ever done this?
posted by Foam Pants to Food & Drink (20 answers total)
We have a good sized rice cooker that makes about 10-12 cups of rice. I would suggest that you ask around to see if you can borrow a few from friends (presumably the friends that you are inviting over for rice?) I thought everyone had a rice cooker.
posted by folara at 11:12 PM on September 22, 2006

Best answer: I wouldn't even bother trying to make rice. Find an Indian restaurant in your area that can make this much rice, it really won't be that expensive. Probably from around $20-$30 for this much rice. Which is def worth it compared to the hours you spend on the stove (that you can spend mingling!). Even if you make all this rice in advance, you'd still have to store it, keep it warm, etc.

At most Indian parties, the moms focus on the main dishes- they cater the stuff like the naan and rice and the other bulk items.

Of course, I dunno if you're cooking Indian food. But I guess white rice is white rice!
posted by unexpected at 11:16 PM on September 22, 2006 [1 favorite]

Find an Indian restaurant that caters.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:31 PM on September 22, 2006

How about cooking it in a casserole pot?
posted by Effigy2000 at 11:33 PM on September 22, 2006

I also suggesting paying a restaurant for the rice. If you live in a place where Indian restaurants do not abound, I suggest contacting some Chinese restaurants, at least one of which must exist in every single city, town, village, hamlet, and cow crossing (hey, someone's got to hire these Fukianese immigrants).

And from my experience, many Chinese restaurants will "cater" even if they don't advertise as such, since that just means making a lot of food beforehand for somebody who's agreed in advance to pay for it.
posted by hhc5 at 11:49 PM on September 22, 2006

What sort of food are you planning to cook? If its Asian, then the right kind of rice to serve is steamed, and you can't get that by baking.

A big rice cooker can cook up to 10 cups of rice, which should be enough for 10-12 people, but for 40 it does seem that buying it from somewhere would be best. Again where you buy it from depends on the kind of food you're serving; Indian rice isn't the same as what Chinese eat, and so on, even though they're both white rice.
posted by destrius at 11:49 PM on September 22, 2006

Subcontract it. My Korean restaurant owning friends did this all the time.

They'll just pop it into a rice cooker the size of a washtub worthy of making a hillbilly bass from.

Thirty bucks should get you 2-3 gallons cooked, white.

Three gallons is 48 one-cup servings.
posted by sourwookie at 11:51 PM on September 22, 2006

I agree with the above. Either invest in a rice cooker (not the best idea if you don't cook rice regularly) or find a local restaurant that can supply you with the quantity you need.
posted by roomwithaview at 11:53 PM on September 22, 2006

Best answer: For about $15, you can get big, cheap aluminum roasting pans, which are infinitely easier to handle than disposable roasting pans. At that price, you might just want to treat the pan as a disposable when the event is over, or not, but its rigidity and handles make it safer and easier to cook and transport your rice in, than disposables. Cover the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil, and you've got all the bulk cooking/handling issues taken care of.

You can scale up this recipe by 10x, which is pretty much your standard stove-top-long-grained-rice-in-a-covered-pot recipe, but you'll probably need to give it an additional 10 to 15 minutes, given the size of the pan, and the amount of heat you'll be pulling into it from your home oven. Actually, peeking in at the rice to see whether the liquid has been fully absorbed is a pretty straightforward way to monitor progress. Pre-cook any onions/carrots/peas/interest vegetables you might want to add in seperate pan on the stove top before beginning to assemble the dish.

Put a cookie sheet on the bottom rack of your oven to catch any drips from the rice pan, and distribute oven heat evenly.
posted by paulsc at 12:01 AM on September 23, 2006

Response by poster: That recipe has you starting on the stovetop and bringing the rice/liquid to a boil. Do you think I could replicate that effect by starting the rice as if it was a pilaf by sauteing, putting it in the foil pan, then pouring boiling water over it?

I don't know if catering the rice is something I can do. This rice needs to be done for tomorrow at noon and my options are limited. This is something I hadn't thought of, though. Wish I had asked this question earlier. I will call the places I can think of tomorrow morning. Thanks for the excellent suggestion.

Just to note, it's Tlingit fish and rice and I just need any kind of white rice for that sort of thing. It is a picnic out on the beach so all food will have to sit a while in a cold.
posted by Foam Pants at 1:00 AM on September 23, 2006

folara's suggestion is the one I've seen in action at large dinner parties and large gatherings. Even if people can't bring the cooker by earlier in the day, the time after they've arrived during which people tend to chat and have drinks/snacks is often enough time to set the cookers up and have the rice cook before the meal starts.
posted by PY at 1:09 AM on September 23, 2006

oops, sorry for the lack of preview
posted by PY at 1:10 AM on September 23, 2006

Best answer: I think that getting the liquid hot on the stove top is fine, and will probably greatly shorten the oven time for the dish, as would raising the oven temp to 375. Generally, if you want the rice to absorb water fast, you want to limit the amount of oil, and introduce it as late in the cooking process as possible.

Another way of cooking up a bunch of rice fairly fast in a couple of batches, is to do it in a pressure cooker, if you have one. A stove top 12 quart Mirro could do 40 servings of rice in 2 or 3 batches, in about 30 minutes, if you fast cooled it with running water in the sink, between batches. I didn't make mention of this earlier, because not everyone has a pressure cooker, or is experienced using it this way.
posted by paulsc at 1:23 AM on September 23, 2006

White rice is white rice!

I agree in that it's all tasty and I will never give up white rice for brown rice but our poster might want to be a bit more choosy depending on what would go best with his or her dish.

Rice at Indian restaurants is Basmati rice, which is drier and less sticky, and which is often served with peas and (I think) caraway seeds embedded in it. I've also eaten saffron rice at Indian restaurants.

Thai restaurants often serve jasmine rice. Both this and Basmati are long grained rice.

Short-grain rice, which cooks up stickier than the above, is called Japonica. I think the method of cooking is all that separates this from "sticky rice." If that makes any sense. Either of those is probably similar to what you are served at a Chinese or Japanese restaurant - properly steamed as a matter of course.

As for whether a restaurant will be able to provide you with rice, they should be able to. When I worked in a Chinese restaurant, we had quite a large rice cooker. My boss charged $1.50/quart of rice, but there might be a discount if you're buying in bulk.
posted by anjamu at 1:42 AM on September 23, 2006 [2 favorites]

Yes, find a nearby thai place and get some jasmine rice. It's the best. Basmati is good, but it's got a stronger flavor and doesn't work with every dish. Jasmine is buttery and makes your house smell like popcorn.

Also, if you buy jasmine rice for your own use, don't get it at Walmart or a big chain grocery store. Find an oriental grocery. There is no comparison in the quality.
posted by wsg at 2:14 AM on September 23, 2006

Just a small point, but to clarify what anjamu said, what you've probably had at a Japanese restaraunt is not short grain rice, but medium grain rice, which is definitely shorter than the longer grain of a Basmati rice or the ever-present "long-grain" rice, which much drier and not sticky at all. Some people will call all non-long-grain rice "short grain," but there is a short grain of rice which is more often sued for glutinous desserts or porridges.
posted by Eldritch at 5:46 AM on September 23, 2006 [1 favorite]

1. Find an Indian place that caters.

2. Alternatively, make a pilaf/chellow. Boil all the necessary rice (basmati works well for this if you can afford it) in a huge pot until it's mostly done, then drain and toss with grease, and put in some big aluminum baking pans- you can do this in batches. Cover tightly and bake until it's done. This method is very tolerant of overbaking, as the rice won't dry out too much or stick together.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:39 AM on September 23, 2006

Adding my voice to the "get it at a restaurant" crowd; they have those huge bulk rice cookers just for the job, and you'll have less of a tedious scrub at the sink to worry about afterward.
posted by brownpau at 7:15 AM on September 23, 2006

The USA Rice Federation gives simple instructions for baking rice in a conventional oven. (They also suggest cooking it in a microwave oven, but I'd be wary of doing this with a large quantity without tinkering around first with times and quantities of water. It doesn't sound like this is the time for experimentation!)

If you do use a disposable aluminum pan as suggested above, I suggest putting it on a baking sheet first. Those aluminum roasters can buckle under the weight of the food; the baking sheet provides a stable platform, and also decreases the likelihood of burning the bottom.
posted by Elsa at 7:23 AM on September 23, 2006

Response by poster: The suggestion to cater out the rice was a hit! I contacted the Alaskan & Proud grocery store in town and they had it waiting for me. YES! The best part is that it saved me so much time that I was able to hop in the canoe and paddle with the rest of the gang. The fish and rice was delish and we had a rain-free day. Gunalcheech!
posted by Foam Pants at 10:49 AM on September 24, 2006

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