I think one of the most challenging quests I’ve conquered as a home cook has been finding a decent Mexican Rice recipe (or Spanish Rice recipe [anyone know what the difference between the two are?]). The first time I made Carnitas I made a Mexican Rice recipe so awful I would have preferred something from a box. The 6 or 7recipes I tried after that were all so sucky that I had almost given up. Far too often I made recipes that were mushy, had an abundance of unnecessary vegetables, greasy texture, and lacked any kick.
Thankfully, the wonderful people at America’s Test Kitchen must have read my mind (well, they must have predicted my predicament because this recipe came out a while ago) and published an impeccable recipe for Mexican Rice that manages to be packed with flavor and was in no way mushy or greasy. While this recipe was a bit fussy for a simple rice side dish, I promise it’s worth it.
- 2 medium ripe tomatoes (about 12 ounces) cored and quartered
- 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
- 3 medium jalapenos
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (you can use veggie broth to make this vegetarian/vegan)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- Lime wedges for serving
- 1/4 – 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional, if you’re a weirdo who likes cilantro)
Adjust an oven rack to the middle position in oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a food processor, pulse tomato and onion until smooth. You should have two cups (discard excess if you have more than 2 cups).
Remove the ribs and seeds from 2 of the jalapenos and finely mince; set aside. Finely mince the third jalapeno and set aside. The logic behind removing the seeds and ribs in 2 out of the 3 jalapenos is that the majority of the heat are in the seeds and ribs. If you’re really averse to heat, remove the seeds and ribs of all three.
Place the rice in a large, fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear, about a minute (this removes the starch and results in a non-mushy rice). Shake vigorously and remove all excess water.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or 12-inch oven proof sauté pan. Drop 3 or 4 grain of rice into the oil. You want the rice to sizzle, and if it does, the oil is sufficiently hot. Add remaining rice and stir frequently until lightly golden brown and mostly translucent (about 6 to 8 minutes).
Reduce heat to medium, add the garlic, and seeded minced jalapenos, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1.5 minutes. Stir in the pureed tomato mixture, chicken broth, tomato paste, and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cover the pan tightly and transfer to oven.
Bake 15 minutes and stir the rice. Cover and return to oven and bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.
Fluff with fork, stir in the third reserved jalapeno and optional cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.