Sunday, December 19, 2010

Zesty Mexican Rice

BREAKING: I'm doing a guest blogger spot today on Heather's, aka The Menu Mama's, lovely site. Heather is a lovely lady with some fabulously delicious recipes--and two adorable kids. Check it out here!

My favorite food in the whole wide world universe is Mexican food.

Oh. Yes.

I must be upfront with you, my friends: many of the recipes that will appear on this blog over time will be of the Mexican/Tex-Mex/Southwestern culinary genre. 

I'm just keepin' it real. I know you'd do the same for me.

I was born in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas, and some of my first memories are of drinking--yes, drinking--salsa. My parents could take my siblings and me out to eat and feed us rice and beans, a cheap and filling meal for all. And we couldn't get enough! My parents say that people would come up to them at their favorite Mexican eatery and marvel at three small children scarfing down the smoky flavors of Mexican cuisine.

Fast forward twenty years. I still adore salsa, and if I ever have a bad day, all I have to do is pull out some cilantro, cumin, and lime and go to town!

As I don't have much disposable income (*ahem* as evidenced by the papasan chair in the background), I rely on rice for many a meal. And I don't even care; I have this rice recipe to tide me over. After I made this batch, I snapped a few photos and had to say a prayer for their quality because I couldn't help myself from devouring this rice.

I have problems. Like raging hunger. Sue me.

I can't stand bland rice, so the stuff I make has got a little zip. I find that this is a recipe that you have to adjust according to your love of zestiness, so don't be disappointed if it doesn't turn out the way you like it the first time. Give it a couple of shots, and you'll find your footing. Trust me: the rewards are sensationally delicious.

It's a great side dish for any Mexican-inspired dish. They're lovely paired with these Southwestern egg rolls.

Cheap, easy, and delicious: what's not to love?

Zesty Mexican Rice (makes about 2 cups, serves 4-6)

  • 1 cup white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • salt, to taste

Combine the rice, chicken broth, and butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture boils, stir it (making sure to scrape the bottom to prevent sticking) then cover. Turn the heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. When the rice is fully cooked, move the saucepan off the heat and keep it covered. 

While the rice is cooking, saute the onions in the vegetable oil for ten minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic, and cook for one minute, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Add the tomato paste and cumin, cooking for one minute.

Add this mixture to the rice, and stir it well. Add the lime juice, cilantro, and salt as desired, and serve at once.

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