Cooking with EL CHAVO!

How to make Mexican Rice

I enjoy cooking. I find it oddly relaxing to zone out while I frantically chop away at ingredients as I guide them in the  process of becoming a dish.  Making your own meals is also rewarding on both the sensory and financial fronts, plus you get to mess around with different ingredients and cooking methods thus you can make every cooking session a learning experience. At least that's what I try to do. Sadly, lots of people still have no clue or interest in dabbling with this ancient practice of cookery, the one learned trait that separates us from the cockroaches. (Umm, there may be some others, but I've yet to see a roach pull out a mini-pan to fry up some vittles. At least not while I was sober.) So if you're interested in some useful human habits other than opening up cans, unscrewing jars lids, or memorizing the microwave cooking time for your next boxed meal, I suggest you follow along with this next installment of my free cooking school: How to Make Mexican Rice!

Like many people, I used to call this "Spanish" rice, the name comes from the era when Mexicans were defined by their language. (I read that somewhere but can't remember the source.) But I've been to Spain and have sampled their food, even the Paella, but Mexican rice is very different, thus I now call it Mexican rice. Whatever, just thought you'd like to know.

Above are the main fresh ingredients I use for my usual batch: 2 cloves of garlic, half a white onion, half a jalapeno. Feel free to moderate the quantities to your own taste. 

Some of the other ingredients: black pepper, ground cumin, nutritional yeast, salt, tomato sauce, and a bouillon cube. Yer gonna have to figure out some of your own proportions, as I don't really measure stuff out. Don't worry, you'll survive.

Of course, you also need a bit of oil. Get your pot hot, and pour some in.

Saute the onion-chile-garlic choppings for around 5 minutes under medium heat..

..and add 2 cups of long grain rice.

You want to toast the rice with the oil so that it goes from this.. this lightly browned rice. You need to keep stirring often so that it doesn't burn and to get all the grains to toast a bit. This is the key process to getting your rice to cook properly; if you don't toast it enough the result will be a mushy pot of rice; cooked too long and the burnt rice will be inedible. But toasted just right, until a majority of the grains have lightly browned, the resulting rice will keep its individual grain structure and not clump up. I think this is the most critical point in the cooking process, as it goes from not-yet-ready to burnt in that moment you thought you could take a quick peek at the Simpsons episode on tv. 

Then you add an 8oz. can of tomato sauce to the mix and stir it up. I love the sizzling sound the liquid makes when it hits the hot pan! See, cooking can be a full sensory experience!

And then the water. Though the common ratio is 2 cups water per 1 cup rice, since I added tomato sauce i usually use around 3 1/2 cups water for 2 cups of rice.

Now you add your bouillon cube and spices. A few turns of the pepper mill works for me.

I like to add a bit of Nutritional yeast for the vitamins but also since it seems to enhance the savoriness. You can add a dash of ground cumin (not too much though, it can be overpowering) and maybe some salt if you think it needs it. Taste the liquid, it'll be an indication of what you can expect once it's done.

Once the liquid comes to a boil, stir the mixture up, turn the heat down very low and set your timer for 20 minutes. Don't go stir it anymore once you start the timer. After the bell, shut off the heat, and let it sit for around 5 minutes. Then you can fluff it up with a fork. Ya estubo, you are done and ready to eat!

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Arroz con!