Mexican rice is usually sautéed before cooking, which gives a nuttier flavor to the grain. We prefer to use fragrant Texas-grown Texmati rice in this dish, though any medium- or long-grain rice will work. Choose between beef or chicken stock on the basis of what else you plan to serve.
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil or lard
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup uncooked rice
- 2 small tomatoes, preferably Roma or Italian plum, chopped, or 1/3 cup drained, chopped canned tomatoes
- 2 cups beef or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon ground dried mild red chile, preferably ancho or New Mexican
- ¾ teaspoon salt
In a medium saucepan, warm the peanut oil or lard over medium heat. Sauté the onion and garlic until softened. Add the rice and tomatoes and sauté for another couple of minutes, stirring to coat all the grains of rice with oil. Pour in the stock, sprinkle in the chile and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook the rice for 15 to 18 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice steam, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes.
Fluff up the rice with a fork and serve warm.
Regional Variations: Rice shows up less in northern New Mexico than elsewhere in the border region, but when it does, it’s often flavored heavily with tomatoes. A cook might reduce the chile to 1 teaspoon and add an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce and a stalk or two of chopped celery. Descendants of California rancho cooks often use olive oil as the fat, which contributes another dimension of taste, and they sometimes get the rosy color from Spanish saffron rather than tomato. Tex-Mex cooks might also skip the tomato, and would likely substitute commercial chili powder, heavily flavored with cumin and garlic, for the dried red chile. A handful of fresh com kernels or minced carrot are favorite vegetable additions. We like to add a cup of cooked garbanzos during the simmering for a heartier dish that can serve as an entrée.
Nutritional information is based on 6 servings.