Bonnie: Birds Eye did it again. First with veggies (see FeaturedBite), providing frozen portions that steam in a few minutes in the microwave – and this time they’ve done so with rice.

I like Steamfresh because it’s quick, convenient and contains only rice (or rice and plain veggies). In a recent survey, Birds Eye discovered that people are not confident in their ability to cook rice. In fact, only a third of those surveyed believed their “rice comes out just right.” I’d bet most of those are reading this!

In fact, having written a book called “Rice,” I find it difficult to comprehend that cooking rice is difficult. If you disagree, though, tell me your rice troubles by posting them here on the site. Be as specific as possible, if you do post a problem.

You might recall that we’ve already told you about a quick rice: Uncle Ben’s Whole Grain Brown Ready Rice, the shelf-stable, 90-second way to have brown rice. Uncle Ben’s is good. Steamfresh is better tasting, contains nothing but rice and has only 1 gram fat. Uncle Ben’s has 4 grams fat from the added oil. I still recommend either for quick nutritious brown rice.

Rice really is simple to prepare, it just takes a little time that many of us don’t have. If you so want to prepare rice from scratch, here are a few tips for perfect rice:

  • Always measure the rice and liquid, then follow the package cooking instructions (as different rices require different amounts of liquid and cooking times)
  • Do not stir (that is unless you’re making a risotto, where you want the rice to release its starch)
  • Fluff the rice before serving to allow the steam to escape, which keeps the grains separated

Bryan: has become a fan of the “Steamfresh” line; we raved (rightly) about their veggies a while back. Birds Eye is a welcome change from their over-sauced, over-salted brethren in the frozen vegetable aisle. Though not what I would consider their “core competency,” Birds Eye has now ventured farther down the rabbit hole of the Steamfresh brand into brown rice; the result is a clear success, (of course, why else would my keyboard grace this product?).

Many new food items to hit the supermarket shelves (and be lucky enough to make it as a Bite of the Best) are convenience products, taking ordinary food preparation from being counted in minutes/hours to being counted in seconds. Instant rice is nothing new, but good instant rice is. The cooking process for rice is normally very slow; the grain needs to absorb heated liquid over time to achieve proper texture and flavor (generally also absorbed through salting or oils). I would never tell you that instant anything tastes better than traditional anything, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; who has the time? Steamfresh is a strong enough player to muscle its way onto any dinner menu without compromise; providing a healthy, tasty and very quick side dish for a modern dinner.

Eric: It’s funny when I read what my mother has written and realize that I, of the belief that I am a “foodie,” have neglected to learn what it means to properly prepare rice. “But you have to stir!” says my girlfriend as I sit here writing. Stirring is something we’ve gotten quite accustomed to doing while cooking Jasmine rice for one of our favorite meals (Chicken & Broccoli), and now that I think about it, its porridge consistency should have set-off red flags in my head. That aside, when it comes to cooking, I’ve never been one for taking short-cuts. When we reviewed Uncle Ben’s 90-second Brown Ready Rice, I had mentioned my disdain for microwavable products; rice, however, is one product I’d love to be able to simply prepare.

The last time I was preparing rice I had a flashback to the steamer my mother has — now probably piled away in one of the kitchen drawers — and the ease it provided when preparing rice (or vegetables). Unfortunately, not all of us have the luxury of such equipment, but for our sake, companies such as Birds Eye and Uncle Ben’s have made fairly arduous tasks easy. This is something I rarely admit, but in this case, taking the short-cut with the microwave will certainly get you there — and with taste.