Seasonal Flavors: Pressure Cooker Brown Rice


My friends Linda and Rob live on the Northern Neck of Virginia, one of the three peninsulas on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay.  They spend a lot of time on their boat, cruising up and down the eastern seaboard, and a fair amount of time in the Caribbean.  They’ve also rented a boat and spent a summer on the Netherlands’ canals. Even though I am a bit water averse, we are fast friends; they got married in our front garden years ago, and we’ve had many happy times together since.

Linda is an extraordinary and creative hostess. Apparently ‘boat culture’ is very friendly and when people anchor in the evening, boaters meet and greet, and share food and beverage.  Sounds like a good life!

I’ve learned a lot from Linda about making tasty treats with simple ingredients that you can carry aboard a sailboat. But the coolest trick is the one I’ll share here: pressure-cooked brown rice.

Let me pause to ask whether you embrace the pressure cooker or are one of those people who fear it. It seems that if your mother didn’t use a pressure cooker, you’re convinced that you’ll blow up your house with it. Far from it! The pressure cooker is a nifty invention that saves time and energy. As Linda said, “When you’re on a boat, you don’t want to heat up the cabin while you’re cooking and you don’t want to use up all your propane, so a pressure cooker is great!”

This statement can apply to all of us. Let’s not overheat the kitchen nor use too much energy. The pressure cookers that Linda and I have are the old-fashioned kind. Turn the lid to lock, place the metal pressure regulator gizmo over the vent, heat until the safety valve closes and the regulator rocks gently. Start timing. When you’re finished, carry the cooker to the sink and run it under cold water to reduce the pressure. When the safety valve releases, give the cooker a shake and then open it.


You can get a new-fangled one like the cooker my daughter Suzanne received as a wedding present. It’s Chinese (there are so many cool Chinese gadgets) called a Tatung electric pressure cooker. Plug it in, add the food and water, push the button corresponding to the food you want to cook, watch the machine reach pressure, cook, cool and let you know when it’s finished. Wow!  Suzanne said, “Pinto beans in twenty minutes!”

I use my pressure cooker to prepare quick soups and for cooking dried beans. Brown rice is healthy and delicious but takes nearly an hour to cook conventionally. Here is Linda’s recipe that cooks in a jiffy.

Pressure Cooker Brown Rice

  • 1 and 1/3 cup brown rice
  • 3 and ½ cups water

Put the rice and 2 cups of water in a metal bowl and place in the pressure cooker.  Put the other 1 and ½ cups of water directly into the pressure cooker.  Bring cooker to pressure and cook for 15 minutes.  Allow the pressure to drop on its own (don’t cool under the faucet).  Open the cooker and allow the rice to steam uncovered for 5 minutes.

Yields about 4 cups of cooked brown rice.


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