Restaurant Style Mexican Rice
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I called my doctor’s office today to complain about their giving me one, 30 day supply of a med I’ve taken for 20 years, with NO refills! God, those people. Sometimes I feel like I’m dealing with the federal government!
When I got the answering service, I asked if they were at lunch, and she said, “no, they’re closed.” I wracked my brain for a moment and it occurred to me: it was Saturday. Well, Bill had gone off to work, so obviously, I was in work-week mode. I laughed my head off, but I could hear this 20-Something thinking “okaaaay, some crazy old lady on the phone, here!” Oh, well. I always wanted to be eccentric. (Maybe I should go work for the government!)
This is the best Mexican Rice you will ever eat. It is so flavorful and fluffy, with the light, separate grains that you get in a Mexican restaurant. You know, the rice that you smoosh up into your beans and eat with a tortilla chip?? God, I love that! Of course, with us, it’s never “a” tortilla chip. We’ve never walked out of a Mexican restaurant without clearing out the entire bowl.
This is not the saucy, wet Spanish Rice that you might make with packets from the store. This is the Real Deal. You’re welcome.
Back in ’08, we were snowed in for 7 days before Christmas. (If you want to read about it, click here on what to do and not to do during an emergency!)
We had to postpone Christmas with the older kids, because our town in Oregon literally had no way to get rid of 7 feet of snow.
We brought in the camp stove (yes, we opened all the windows) and I made this on Christmas Eve, along with Enchiladas and refried beans. We had the two youngest at home, still, and I wasn’t going to let my depression over Christmas get me down. Thank God, we had a generator with enough fuel to crank up the little plug-in oven. As it turned out, it was a pretty good meal.
I’m making this rice today because tomorrow I’m making Ground Chicken Burritos using my homemade Spinach Flour Tortillas. Not wanting to spend my entire Sunday in the kitchen, I’ll make this rice today and refrigerate it overnight.
Although this takes a few minutes of hands-on time, it really isn’t hard. When you’re browning the rice in oil, you don’t need to stir constantly. Step away and load the dishwasher, and stir occasionally, keeping an eye on the color.
This recipe makes quite a lot. No fear! Although I halved it, since it’s just the two of us, I could have easily made the entire recipe and then frozen it.
The problem is, my freezer is getting positively loaded to the gills. Why? Because I keep cooking and freezing dishes, but I never go back and thaw anything. I have to keep coming up with something new every day. What’s a woman to do??
Half of this recipe makes enough for Bill and me to have two separate meals out of it.
This recipe comes from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, which my son and his adorable girlfriend gave me, several years ago. I haven’t had a bad meal out of it, ever. So, thanks, guys. That was so sweet of you!
This recipe calls for the use of fresh tomatoes. If it were summer and I had a nice, juicy crop, I would definitely use them.
Our tomatoes in the market, however, pretty much taste like pale red cardboard. I mean, really, why bother?
So, I process my onion and then add 1 ¾ cups red salsa, instead. It should come out to 2 cups, total. I also think the salsa gives the rice that much more flavor.
2 medium tomatoes, cored and quartered
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1/3 cup vegetable oil (exactly this amount!)
2 cups long-grained rice, rinsed and drained *
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded and minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
½ minced fresh cilantro, optional (or MORE)
Lime wedges, for serving
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350°.
Puree the tomatoes and onion in a food processor until smooth. You should have 2 cups puree. Measure it out, so that you have 2 cups, exactly! Save the excess for another dish. Even freeze it – every little bit helps, right?
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. After a few minutes, add a couple of grains of rice to the oil. If they sizzle, the oil is ready.
Add the rice and saute, stirring frequently, until light golden, about 10 minutes.
If you don’t have a Dutch Oven yet, check out this one from Lodge on Amazon. It’s very reasonably priced and I love Lodge products.
Stir in the garlic and two thirds of the minced jalapenos. Cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.
Stir in the pureed tomato mixture, broth, tomato paste and 1 ½ teaspoons salt.
Bring to a boil. Cover and bake until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.
(I always use chopsticks or a fork to stir the rice, so that the grains don’t get mushed together.)
Fluff the rice with a fork. Fold in the cilantro. Taste. If you want more heat, stir in the remaining jalapenos. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve, passing the lime wedges separately.
You will be so happy you made this!
Enjoy and stay tuned for my homemade Spinach Flour Tortillas tomorrow!
* They say to rinse the long-grain rice in a sieve under cold water for a minute and a half to get rid of the starch in the rice. This is very important to achieve the light, fluffy rice we’re aiming for. But I found an easier way, that I saw on tv once. If you are using 2 cups rice, measure it out into a 4 cup liquid measuring cup. Add warm water to the pitcher and fill it to the top. Stir occasionally from time to time and let sit. You won’t believe how cloudy the rice water will get! Then after 5 minutes or so, pour into a large sieve and rinse off well under the faucet.
It’s important to drain this well, so you won’t get splattered, when you add it to the hot oil. A word to the wise!
Since I’d spent enough time in the kitchen and laundry room today, we celebrated with Sinful Saturday. Seriously, these are the Kosher Hot Dogs that Bill had for dinner. I only had one, with mustard. But was it ever good! Yum.
First, I put the Kosher Hot Dogs in a medium saucepan and covered them with cold water. When they came to a boil, I turned the heat off and covered the pan. They sat for about 5 minutes or so. Then, I dried them off, put them on a cookie sheet, and stuck them under the broiler until the skin was blistered all around. Not as good as over a campfire, but a close second.