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.


  1. You're back! I'm so happy to see you, doll face!

    Jenny, MSG used to give me serious headaches, so I gave it up many years ago. I want to try your flavorful Mexican rice. I might even share it with daughter Sam :)—another vegetarian who hates vegetables.

    Happy Easter!

    1. Hey Marysol! Yes, MSG is awful stuff. I'm lucky not to experience the headaches, but I definitely notice how hungry it makes me. Always good to hear from you, and Happy Easter to you!

  2. Yum! This looks good. I agree that toasting the rice makes all the difference in the world. Keeps the rice from getting soggy. I'm going to try this next time I make Mexican-inspired dishes.

    I'm so glad you posted again. I've really missed your take on vegetable based dishes. Your tempura green onion post inspired me to look into deep fat frying, and I ended up ordering a counter top fryer. It should be arriving shortly, so I'll find out if I have the ability to master it.

    1. Hey Shambo! I've been wanting to order a counter top fryer myself. Some people demonize fried foods, but everything in moderation, I always say. I'm looking forward to all of the dishes you'll be coming up with using that fryer!

  3. This rice looks soooo good! I love a good Mexican rice! Oddly I never toast my rice - I normally soak it then steam it but this is great.

  4. Jenny! You kind of made my day, haha. I've never been able to make *really good* mexican rice, even though it's one of my favorite foods. But, like you, I've found that most have chicken broth. Your recipe and pictures look awesome - I can't wait to try it.

  5. I want to report back that I made your recipe a couple of weeks ago. It was wonderful! I used long grain brown rice and omitted the celery. Instead of tomato sauce, I used about a tablespoon of tomato powder. I must confess that I used low sodium chicken broth but added no additional salt. It was great the first time and also made fabulous leftovers. It's a perfect accompaniment to Mexican inspired meals. Thanks!

  6. I seem to have a pattern of finding a favorite Mexican rice recipe, sticking with it for a while, then scouting out my next favorite. I made yours tonight (sans carrot and celery) and I think it will be my go-to for the foreseeable future. Thanks!