Mexican Rice That Thinks Outside the Box

Mexican rice brings out the best in carbohydrates. It’s warm. It’s aromatic. It even has a soothing red-orange color.

But all too often when we host a taco night, we succumb to boxed Mexican rice. Inevitably, the rice is dry. The flavor packet seasoning is too harsh. The sodium to flavor ratio is a disaster.

Luckily, it is incredibly easy to make your own Mexican rice! Today I present to you my personal favorite: a simplified rendition of Rick Bayless’s Red Tomato Rice from his indispensable cookbook Mexico One Plate At A Time.


INGREDIENTS:

  • One 15 ounce can of whole tomatoes in juice
  • 1/2 small white onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 ¾ cups chicken stock (vegetable stock is equally delicious)
  • 1 ½ cups long grain white rice
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil

INSTRUCTIONS:

Step 1: Remove the whole tomatoes from the can. Place them in a blender with the white onion (roughly chopped) and the garlic cloves (peeling them is highly recommended). Blend until smooth.

Usually, this will result in around one cup of pureed vegetables. However, I have found that you could probably double the amount of puree in this recipe if you want to intensify the flavors.

Step 2: Heat up a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a saucepan (a small Dutch oven also works like a charm). Pour in your cup of dry rice. Stir furiously for five minutes.

IMG_0288
Halfway through the process, you can see that some of the rice remains translucent.

You’re ready to move on when the rice is completely opaque, and a couple grains have started to toast slightly.

Step 3: Pour your onion, garlic, and tomato elixir into your rice and stir. The liquid in this puree will cook off quickly. Keep stirring until the rice looks fairly dry.

IMG_0297
Early in the process of cooking off the tomato liquid. The puree is far too wet and shiny.

Step 4: While the rice is being cooked on burner #1, you should be heating up the chicken or vegetable stock on burner #2. It should be hot, but not boiling. If the stock is low sodium, hit it with several large pinches of salt. If it is normal sodium, I might still add a pinch.

This stock is going to be responsible for seasoning the rice. If you want it to taste like restaurant rice, you’ll have to add more salt than you believe to be reasonable.

Step 5: Pour the stock into the rice. Stir. Scrape down the sides. Cover your pan and simmer on the lowest heat for 15 minutes.

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Yum?

When fifteen minutes has elapsed, check to make sure you don’t need a last-minute infusion of extra broth (there are a lot of variables here and not all rice will cook exactly the same). If everything looks hunky dory, let the rice rest five minutes and then fluff it with a fork.

Step 6: Your rich Mexican rice is now ready to be consumed!

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Note: If you wish to add cubed carrots or jalapeños, you can do so during step 3. If you wish to add peas, you can do so during the fluffing process.

As we conclude, I would like to thank my sister for letting me take 37 photos of Mexican rice using her iPhone.

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