Mexican Rice

Sometimes something beautiful can happen when there’s no food in your pantry. We are still working on getting back into our “normal” routine after the holidays. Until yesterday afternoon, I hadn’t paid bills and I hadn’t been grocery shopping (like really grocery shopping….for things other than butterfingers and chips) for something like two weeks. We have done nothing but eat takeout and leftovers since Christmas so I refused to call in for wings or pizza again. When I looked in my cupboards, I had three frozen chicken breasts, some basmati rice, a packet of chipotle pepper Grill Mate seasoning, and the leftovers veggies I used to make our own queso. And I’m not exaggerating, that was it. “What about sandwiches?” you ask. You need would bread for that and my dogs ate the last half loaf I had. What about macaroni and cheese? I had neither the box of Kraft nor any milk (Eric called me at work yesterday to inform me that it had soured. Awesome.)

Given what I had, I marinated the chicken in the seasoning and threw it in the oven. Then I got to work on a new recipe for mexican rice, which became Anna’s entire dinner. She ate it with both hands, no silverware, just fist fulls of rice into her chubby little cheeks. And seeing as how my “mom of the year award” is long gone by now, I was perfectly satisfied to let her do it. What resulted was a new favorite for all three of us. This will now be my go to recipe for Mexican rice, I will serve it with burritos, with tacos, with enchiladas, maybe even with macaroni and cheese (of which there are now two “back up” boxes sitting in the pantry.)

Two keys to success with this, the first is frying the onion, garlic, and rice in a little bit of olive oil. If you use basmati rice, rinse it really well first. Rinsing basmati rice keeps it from getting sticky while it cooks. Otherwise, long grain white rice will work well for this.

Second is fresh cilantro. This you just chop up while the rice is cooking and mix in right before serving. It gives it such great flavor! What I love most about this rice is that you get so much flavor without giving it too much heat or spice. If Anna ate it, trust me its mild enough for you.

Mexican Rice

Recipe adapted from 

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1 cup of basmati or long grain white rice (rinse basmati rice until the water runs clear out the bottom of the strainer)
2 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or 1 tsp. minced garlic)
1/4 cup of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of lime juice, from about 1 lime
1/2 cup of freshly chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons cumin
1 tsp. salt

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the rice, garlic, and onion and saute until the onions turn clear and the rice is slight browned.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the chicken broth, tomato paste, lime juice, cumin, and salt. Add to the skillet. Simmer, covered, on low for 20 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let it sit, covered, five minutes.

Sprinkle the cilantro over the rice and then fluff the whole mixture with a fork. Serve immediately.