Product Design

A Pot Designed to Make Perfectly Cooked Rice—That Actually Does

August 21, 2016

Perfectly perky, fork-fluffable rice should be foolproof. Simple math and basic chemistry. So why is it so hard?

Maybe it's because the variables involved in the cooking process, while few, are so prone to inconsistency—the precise time and intensity of the heating process will differ from stove to stove, and the composition and shape of cooking pots know no bounds—but rice turns out to be beguilingly easy to mess up. It boils over, burns, and finishes as a soupy slurry rather than the voluminous cloud you want.

So when we met Staub's stovetop rice cooker, a mini of their Essential French Oven, we fell in love. Not only is it adorably compact (available in 0.75-quart and 1.5-quart sizes), and therefore just the right size for puffing up grains while dinner stews, but it's designed to make perfect rice. Here's why we love it.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

It does its job like a boss.

Most curved lids distribute moisture only to the sides of a pot, but the apostrophe-shaped grooves (see image below) all over the inside of our rice cooker's lid counteract that: They capture steam into big, fat droplets that constantly drip back into the rice as it cooks, a system Staub calls "self-basting." Coupled with the thick, enameled cast iron construction of the pot, they create a steamy situation that results in perfectly cooked-through grains. Every time.

Those little apostrophes on the lid's underside collect moisture. Photo by Mark Weinberg

So versatile!

White rice is a wonderful thing, ready and waiting for a spoonful of curry or beans or a showering of herbs—but you can always gussy it up right in the pot. Ivan Orkin, of Ivan Ramen, likes to make soy-and-sake-spiked Shimeji Rice in his stovetop rice cooker. (He prefers using this cooker to an electric one, in part because it's a far more connected, hands-on process. But the result, he said, is also superior: Because "the rice that comes out of the pot has each grain cooked individually, rather than tightly stuck together, each grain is fully cooked, giving a texture that is hard to achieve with other cooking methods.")

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Other grains and seeds, like farro, quinoa, wheat berries, barley, and oatmeal would all cook up famously in a stovetop rice cooker, too. Our editor Sarah Jampel loves hers for poaching eggs, because the shape is so deep, and it's also excellent for hard-boiling a few—it's not too wide, which means less water is required to cover them at all.

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Top Comment:
“Since I do a lot of wok cooking, in my Old School Lodge cast iron wok, by this pot being so small, I'm able to cook rice and use the wok, at the same time, on my 5-burner gas stove. The pot takes up very little space on the stove. I have several other Staub cookware pieces and love them all.”
— D.E.
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For the same reasons, the stovetop rice cooker would also do right by you pasta leftovers turned into baked pastas (put it right in the oven!), your sauces that need to simmer down, your fried shallots (no oil splashes!), and more.

It's exceedingly cute.

We've even dared you to find a cuter rice cooker. (You can't!) To point: When was the last time you made rice and served it in the pot you cooked it in? (Never.) And a regular saucepan has no better table manners than a bulky electric rice cooker, either; they'd both feel a little out of place alongside the salt and pepper.

But one of these cuties begs to join you for dinner. Cook your rice in it, fluff with a fork, then bring the whole thing to rest on a trivet on the table, where everyone can help themselves.

Lastingless: Forever.

The reason you can sometimes find an enameled cast iron pot at a passed-over yard sale, ready to take home and love as your own, is because they're built to last forever. Staub's stovetop cookers, which we carry in glossy grey and matte black, have all that same durability in a shape that could never go out of style.

Shop our Staub stovetop rice cookers in the Food52 Shop, and tell us what you make in yours, in the comments.

9 Comments

Ann O. January 1, 2017
This is NOT a new idea - I have been using a Le Creuset cast iron pot to cook rice in for decades - perfect every time once you figure out the right temp and time. Doesn't have the fancy lid and doesn't need it.
 
D.E. December 16, 2016
I absolutely love this pot. I bought the large one in the gorgeous dove grey color some months ago and just ordered two more, but in the grenadine color. I bought the large sized one. I cook brown rice in mine (3.5-4 cups of water to 1 cup of rice). When the pot has cooled down, I just put it into the fridge with the remaining leftover rice in it. When it's time to wash the pot, it washes really easily with a little dish soap and my regular dish brush. I have left the pot in the fridge for as long as a week and the washing has still been easy, even with caked up rice on it. I will be giving one to a friend, for a Christmas gift, and then keeping the second one for me as to cook other grains, along with steel cut oatmeal. Since I do a lot of wok cooking, in my Old School Lodge cast iron wok, by this pot being so small, I'm able to cook rice and use the wok, at the same time, on my 5-burner gas stove. The pot takes up very little space on the stove. I have several other Staub cookware pieces and love them all.
 
Ellen R. October 3, 2016
Does the smaller .75 version, make enough for two people?
 
Connie H. August 23, 2016
I'm curious about this particular rice/ grain pot. Could someone at food52 share how heavy the pot is, and could it go in the dishwasher in a pinch? I hand wash most key items from pressure cookers to good Waterford and 1940s china, but sometimes things need to move to clean status in a non- contemplative way if possible. I use cast iron skillets frequently and wonder if the enameled grain pot and lid is similar in heft.
 
Scribbles October 3, 2016
It is cast iron and should not go in the dishwasher.
 
laura August 22, 2016
Thanks but I'll keep my 30 year old electric rice cooker. While it's not 'cute', it does the job perfectly every time and holds the cooked rice at the perfect temperature for as long as needed--even until tomorrow's dinner with the leftovers.
 
Penny L. August 22, 2016
I use a rice cooker, which I learned to do when I was living in Asia. Using a rice cooker frees up a burner on the stove plus once it's set up you don't need to think about it again until dinner is served. <br /><br />Basically it's idiot-proof, which benefits me greatly.
 
Scotty H. August 21, 2016
I just cook rice like pasta - uncovered.
 
cv August 21, 2016
Old-school Asians use clay pots -- not metal -- for cooking rice. Been like that for thousands of years.