Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mexican Rice

Life is funny sometimes. I spent my first 30 years hating rice. It's not like it ever did anything to me or that I got sick after eating it - I just didn't care for it. It was plain, expected, and just kind of sat there, which is why any time I was at a Mexican restaurant, I'd order double beans instead.

Then two years ago I made a rice pilaf with toasted pine nuts, parsley and lemon zest...and loved it. Rice was suddenly this mysterious, intriguing stranger, chameleon-like in its ability to take on different flavors and textures.

Now I make it all the time. This is my husband's favorite version that I patterned after the rice served at Mexicana Mama, our favorite local Mexican joint. Peas and carrots go together like...well, peas and carrots but again you can add anything you like if you're not a fan. Fresh chopped cilantro would be a nice addition at the end.

Mexican Rice

1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions or shallots
1 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh cracked pepper
1 cup chopped carrots
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 cup rice
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

Add the oil to a medium, thick bottomed sauce pan and put the burner on medium/low heat. Add the onions, sprinkling with salt and fresh cracked pepper and cook until translucent stirring every so often - about 10 minutes. Add the carrots and cook another 5 minutes until softened. Add the stock, cover and bring to a boil. Stir in the rice, cover and lower the heat to low so that it's simmering but not spastically boiling/kicking the lid off the pot and let cook for 20 minutes, just until the rice sets. Stir gently to fluff adding in the paprika and peas. Taste for salt/seasoning and make any necessary adjustments.

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