Arroz A La Mexicana; Mexican Rice

imageThere’s an art to making Mexican rice. It’s where technique and tradition meet superstition familial custom; long held recipes passed down from the sages of Mexican cooking: Las Abuelas. Maybe your Mom taught it to you; or a Tia showed you a secret to do it better. If you grew up like me, you wouldn’t be remiss to hear a rice ‘war story’ every now and again – that time when the world seemed to hinge on el arroz and someone didn’t put enough water or they didn’t fry the rice long enough. And the only one that could save it was your grandmother.  

Arroz a la Mexican or Mexican rice is easy to make but at times difficult to get right. It requires patience, a general know-how and timing. Many a cultures’ history is intertwined with rice; how it’s made and the particularities attached. For Italians it’s risotto; for the Japanese it’s sushi rice. For Mexicans, its Arroz a la Mexicana – sometimes referred to as Spanish Rice (or Mexican rice). 

In my family when we spoke of rice it was our default. Every other rice was qualified by it’s color. (White Rice, Yellow Rice, etc.). For us, rice was rice and it was always Arroz a la Mexicana.  

Let’s get this out of the way now: No method for making rice is full-proof (and this can be said for any recipe, really) because of heating variables. No two gas (or electric) stoves will produce the same results because so much hinges on just how much heat. The important thing to remember is to watch the liquid level of the rice. Keep your rice covered as much as possible but don’t be afraid to lift the lid to have a peek. Or use a glass lid – that’s what I do. Just take a spoon and pull from the side to see where you stand liquid-wise and you’ll be fine.  Just don’t stir.

I use achiote* powder in both my broth and my ‘tomato mixture’ to give my rice that familiar red hue; it imparts only a nominal flavor (in small quantities) and it’s optional but I always use it. Sometimes it can be hard to find and that’s understandable.

image (1)Note: Some cooks swear by a can of tomato sauce or chile de pato as their tomato component of the dish but I always (at least in this instance) go for fresh tomatoes because it gives it a fresh pop and I try to use fresh as much as possible.

Before we get started:

Just remember these four crucial steps in the making of the rice and you’re set like a turbo vette’.
1. Rinsing and soaking your rice before hand.
2. Sauteing your rice until it turns golden.
3. Cooking out the liquid from your tomato mixture before adding the broth.
4. DO NOT STIR while it cooks.

Full recipe and instructions below:

Arroz a la Mexicana; Mexican Rice 

2 TBS Oil (I prefer canola)

1 Cup of (Medium Grain) rice

(Broth Mixture)
2 Cups of flavorful broth
1/2 tsp achiote powder (optional)
pinch of paprika

(Tomato Mixture)
1 Cup (fresh) chopped Roma tomatoes (About two Medium)
1/4 medium onion
Few Sprigs of cilantro
1 clove of garlic
1 small jalapeno de-stemmed & seeded (optional – adds a little heat)
1 tsp achiote (optional)
pinch of cumin
pinch of salt

1/2 cup defrosted (frozen) green peas

1. Rinse your rice in a bowl; cover in warm water and let rest for 15 minutes.
2. Blend tomato mixture in a blender until liquefied. Set aside.
3. Drain Rice thoroughly through a fine mesh strainer.
4. Heat oil in a Medium saute pan for 1 minute over Med-High heat.
4. Saute Rice in oil for 9 minutes** (stirring occasionally) or until golden brown.
5. Add tomato mixture; stir to incorporate.
6. When all the liquid has cooked from your tomato mixture, add your broth mixture.
7. Stir to incorporate.
8. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes. DO NOT STIR.
9. Add defrosted peas to rice and re-cover pan.
10. Cook until liquid has evaporated. (5 to 10 minutes)
11. When all of the liquid has evaporated – turn off heat – keep covered (DO NOT STIR) for 10 mintues.
12. Fluff rice with fork gently and incorporate peas.

Y, A Asi No Mas! Buen Provecho! 

*Achiote is ground annatto. It can be found in many Latin/Mexican markets. It is often in paste form – I usually opt for the powdered form.
** 9 minutes seems like a long time but, trust me it’s necessary. Just make sure that you’re stirring your rice enough not to burn but not too much that it’s not cooking properly. Waltz with your rice just don’t step on its feet! 

One response to “Arroz A La Mexicana; Mexican Rice

  1. Pingback: Arroz Verde; Roasted Poblano Rice |·

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