Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mexican Red Rice

A restaurant nearby makes the most incredible burritos, the star of which is their fabulous red rice. Or perhaps, rather than star, I should call it the best supporting actor.  It's flavors are subtle, allowing the rest of the ingredients to shine.  It doesn't steal the show, but without it, you'd have a sure flop.  Needless to say, I had developed quite an addiction to these burritos, and was sending the hubby out to get them far more often than we could afford.  But as much as I enjoyed the taste, I always had this nagging in the back of my mind that there was chicken broth involved, and the fact that my hunger would return a mere hour after eating indicated something else- msg.  Fortunately for me, my suspicions were confirmed when a cook showed my husband their secret ingredient-chicken powder.  Ignorance is bliss.  I may have been able to quiet that nagging before, but now that I know for certain that it contained both chicken and msg (a major ingredient in chicken powder), I am free of my addiction.  But not free of burrito cravings.  So I've been busy, very busy, working to recreate this perfect backdrop of a rice.  And I think I've finally done it.

The key to creating a rice that is fluffy, not saucy, is to toast it.  This reduces its starchiness, allowing the rice to absorb the flavors.

No chicken or msg necessary.  Just pure, unadulterated deliciousness.

Mexican Red Rice
Yield: About 3 cups 

2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup long grain rice
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped (optional)
1 stalk celery, chopped (optional)
1 jalapeno, seeded and deveined (optional- I like the extra spice and added health benefits)
3-5 cloves garlic, minced 
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
1 tsp salt

In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat olive oil.  Add rice and heat until golden, stirring often so it doesn't burn.  Don't skip this part!  Add veggies and sautee until softened, then add rest of ingredients.  Bring to a boil and cover, then reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes without stirring.  Fluff with a fork and serve.