When I left home and had to figure out how to cook for myself, one of my staples in my limited repertoire for a “fancy” dinner was a box rice product called Herb and Butter rice — but I can’t remember the company name. It wasn’t Knorr — or Rice-a-Roni . . . but I can see that box in my mind as clear as day. My OTHER favorite rice from the same company was what they called “Spanish” rice.
A lot of years have passed , and I now have a favorite scratch recipe for Mexican rice. This makes quite a lot, but it’s what I pack for my work lunch for a few days after I make it. It’s easy to make, and as always, fresh ingredients–the best you can find — take any recipe from meh to amazing! ARRIBA!!
12 ounces tomatoes, very ripe and cored
1 medium white onion
3 medium jalapenos
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
4 minced garlic cloves
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste (may omit if using canned tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1. Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350.
2. Process tomato and onion in processor or blender until pureed and thoroughly smooth. Transfer mixture to measuring cup and reserve exactly 2 cups. Discard excess.
3. Remove ribs and seeds from 2 jalapenos and discard. Mince flesh and set aside. Mince remaining jalapeno. Set aside.
4. Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear- about 1 1/2 minutes. Shake rice vigorously to remove excess water.This step removes the starch from the rice so it will be dry and fluffy in the finished dish.
5. Heat oil in heavy bottomed oven-safe 1o or 12 inch straight sided sautee pan or Dutch oven with tight fitting lid over low-medium heat about 2 minutes. Drop a few rice grains in, and if they sizzle, the pan is ready. Add rice and fry stirring until rice is light golden and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Be careful that the oil doesn’t get too hot too fast or the oil will splatter.
6. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and 2 minced jalapenos and cook , stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.
7. Stir in broth, pureed mixture,tomato paste, and salt. Increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.
8. Cover pan and transfer pan to oven to bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes. Stir well after 15 minutes.
9. Stir in cilantro, minced jalapeno to taste, and pass lime wedges separately.