David and I are big fans of Mexican food. We eat at Mexican restaurants often, but lately have been making more Mexican food at home. One of the things we love most at Mexican restaurants is the rice. I love eating rice and refried beans together along with a delicious, warm Mexican dish (usually enchiladas for me). I found this recipe and decided to try it to see if it would compare to the wonderful rice we get at our favorite restaurants. It was definitely everything we were looking for. I think this is even better than what we have in restaurants because it is so moist and flavorful. I think that sometimes rice like this tends to be too much on the dry side. This rice had a great flavor, and is wonderful on its own as a side dish, or in burritos (which is the way we usually eat it). I am so glad we discovered this recipe, because we make this rice all the time now to go with burritos, quesadillas, fajitas, enchiladas, and all of our other favorite Mexican dishes. It makes a ton of rice, but I have had much luck freezing it (smaller portions work best) and reheating it when I need it. I would actually recommend this because this rice does tend to take a while, and this way you can quickly freeze it and have it ready quickly for the perfect Mexican meal!
I am also submitting this to the Eat to the Beat event over at Elly Says Opa! This rice makes me think of the song “Mexico” by James Taylor. Wouldn’t it be so nice to be in Mexico, eating some great food and drinking Margaritas? That sounds perfect to me after the cold winter months. But, for now, I’ll just have to dream of laying on the beach in the warm sun :)
Mexican Rice (source: Cook’s Illustrated September 2004)
2 ripe tomatoes (about 12 ounces), cored and quartered
1 medium onion, preferably white, peeled, trimmed of root end, and quartered
3 medium jalapeno chiles
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ teaspoons table salt
½ cup minced fresh cilantro leaves (I omitted this)
1 lime, cut into wedges for serving
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Process tomatoes and onion in food processor until smooth and thoroughly pureed, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl if necessary. Transfer mixture to liquid measuring cup; you should have 2 cups (if necessary, spoon off excess so that volume equals 2 cups). Remove ribs and seeds from 2 jalapeños and discard; mince flesh and set aside. Mince remaining jalapeño, including ribs and seeds; set aside.
Place rice in large fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes. Shake rice vigorously in strainer to remove all excess water.
Heat oil in heavy-bottomed ovensafe 12-inch straight-sided sauté pan or Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, 1 to 2 minutes. Drop 3 or 4 grains rice in oil; if grains sizzle, oil is ready. Add rice and fry, stirring frequently, until rice is light golden and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and seeded minced jalapeños; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in pureed tomatoes and onions, chicken broth, tomato paste, and salt; increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil. Cover pan and transfer to oven; bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.
Stir in cilantro and reserved minced jalapeño with seeds to taste. Serve immediately, passing lime wedges separately.