A Basic Recipe for Mexican Rice

Over the many years of getting combos and specials from taco shops- I pretty much just got used to the idea of eating Mexican rice and refried beans with everything.  So when making some tacos for myself, I always make a side of rice to go with it.  This recipe is flexible and can be made with 6 basic ingredients with simple steps for ease and quickness or can be fancied up a bit if you have the time. The easiest version can be done in about 30 minutes from start to eating.

Serves 3-4 people.
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  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or Lard
  • ¼ medium white onion (or more if you're into onions)
  • 2 roma tomatoes OR 4 oz tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ cup Well-salted Chicken Broth OR 1 ½ cup water mixed with ¾ teaspoon salt

 Optional Ingredients:

  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • ¼ Cup Carrot (small dice)
  • ¼  Cup Peas
  • ¼ Cup Corn Kernels

Use a large heavy saucepan with a lid, large enough that the layer of rice across the bottom of the pan is relatively thin. Always have everything measured out before you start cooking

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1. Rinse the rice well with water, pour into a sieve and let the rice drain for a minute- or give it a few shakes to remove the excess water.

2. If you choose to go with fresh tomatoes, use a blender to puree the tomatos, onion, and garlic (optional) into a smooth puree.  If you go with the tomato sauce, now is a good time to portion out the sauce, fine chop the onion and set aside, and mince the garlic (optional) and set aside.

3. Heat the cooking oil or lard in the sauce pan over a medium-high heat.  Once hot, toss in the rice and stir til all the rice is coated.  Fry the rice until it turns a pale golden color.  Make sure to stir frequently so as not to burn the rice.   This should take around 10-12 minutes in a larger sauce pan. If there’s excess oil or lard, tip the pan to the side and spoon out the oil.

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4. Once the rice is golden, pour either your puree (if using fresh tomatoes) or the sauce, chopped onions, garlic into the sauce pan.  Keep the heat on medium-high, and stir the mixture until the liquid has evaporated and the rice starts looking dry (about 3-4 minutes).

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5. Pour in your broth (or salted water) and your optional vegetables (carrots, peas, corn).  Stir the broth ingredients and let the rice settle evenly across the bottom of the pot.    There’s no need to stir the rice for the rest of the cooking.

6. Let the liquid come to a boil, then reduce heat to low so that the liquid is barely simmering.  Place on the lid of the pan and walk away for about12-15 minutes. Do not stir or open the lid during this cooking time.

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7. After about 12-15 minutes, the rice should have absorbed the liquid (you’ll see holes forming in the rice).  Be careful when opening the lid as hot steam will emerge from the pan.  If the rice is slightly undercooked, remove the pan from heat and replace the lid- the rice will cook gently and soften in its own steam.  If the rice is done to your liking, remove the lid and let the steam escape so as to not over cook the rice.

8. Fluff the rice with a fork.  The Mexican rice should result with each grain separating individually and with a slight fluffiness.   It’s best to enjoy the rice right away.  Enjoy! You can throw leftovers in the fridge and warm them up the next day in a covered container placed in an oven set to 300 degrees.

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