Mexican Rice

We love Mexican food but for some reason, it’s actually pretty rare that we make it at home.  Occasionally we’ll have tacos and I think I made enchiladas once (they received a chilly reception from Shane) but that’s about the extent of it.  I’d like to start trying more Mexican dishes though since they’re usually such favorites for us when we’re out.  This Mexican rice was the first recipe that caught my eye as I flipped through my copy of More Best Recipes looking for ideas.  The recipe purees tomatoes and onions and adds the mixture to a pot of rice that’s been fried in some vegetable oil.  Garlic and jalapenos add flavor and just a touch of heat.  The rice is baked in the oven so it’s pretty low maintenance.  The only issue I ran into was that my rice was slightly overcooked after 30 minutes in the oven (the suggested minimum cooking time).  Next time I’ll pull the Dutch oven out and check on it at about 27 minutes instead.  We both loved the rice so it was definitely a good first choice!  This recipe makes a fairly large batch so we had leftovers and we thought the rice was still tasty reheated in the microwave the next day.  I’m a wimp when it comes to heat in dishes but I didn’t find this one too spicy.  If you like heat, you’ll probably want to add that entire third jalapeno (see recipe below) along with its seeds and ribs.  I only used about 1/4 of that third chile and like I said, the dish was mild.  There’s also a brown rice version of the recipe that I’m going to try next so I’ll report back on how that turns out as I know a lot of people prefer brown rice to white.

Mexican Rice

I like to keep things mostly food-related here on the blog, but during the summer months I will be occasionally sharing results from Shane’s triathlons and road races.  Yesterday was the first race of the season, a half-marathon that served as a sort of warm-up for the marathon (his first ever!) that he’s running in May.  I’d like to think the Mexican rice, which we had for dinner the night before the race, had something to do with his success, but I’m pretty sure the months of training may also have played a role :)

We hopped in our car and headed down to New Bedford, MA yesterday morning for the race.  New Bedford is nicknamed “the whaling city” because it was a famous whaling port during the 19th century.  They’ve even got a Whaling Museum and though I’ve never been, I hear it’s great!

New Bedford Half-Marathon, 3-21-10

There were close to 2500 runners and lots of friends and family came to support them.  Shane’s parents came to watch, which was really nice.  I was glad they were there to keep me company! 

New Bedford Half-Marathon, 3-21-10

The starting line was a madhouse and we had a hard time picking Shane out of the crowd (though I think his dad did eventually find him and get a picture).  You can see the whaling statue in the left half of this shot.

New Bedford Half-Marathon, 3-21-10

After the runners were off, we walked over to the 5-mile point of the race, hoping to catch a glimpse of Shane as he went by.  Lots of other people had the same idea though, and since I’m just barely 5 feet tall, it was a challenge.  Crowds are not my friend :)  Luckily, I did nab a shot of him, waving nonetheless!

New Bedford Half-Marathon, 3-21-10

I wasn’t quite as lucky at the finish.  He raced by before I noticed so all I got was this shot of his back and the finish line in sight.  This was only his second half-marathon, but he beat his time from the last race, finishing in just over 1:46!  

New Bedford Half Marathon, 3-21-10

Afterward, we celebrated with lunch at the Rose Alley Ale House, which Shane had selected for its extensive beer selection.  Watching a race is hard work so I enjoyed this huge burger and sweet potato fries.  It was a great day and I’m definitely looking forward to May’s big marathon in Providence!

New Bedford Half-Marathon, 3-21-10

Mexican Rice
from More Best Recipes by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated

2 medium ripe tomatoes (about 12 oz), cored and quartered
1 medium white onion, peeled and quartered
3 jalapeno chiles
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)
Lime wedges for serving (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Process tomatoes and onions in the food processor until smooth and thoroughly pureed, about 15 seconds, scraping down the bowl if necessary.  Transfer the mixture to a liquid measuring cup; you should have 2 cups (if necessary, spoon off excess).  Remove the ribs and seeds from 2 of the jalapenos and mince the flesh.  Mince the remaining jalapeno, including the ribs and seeds this time, and reserve separately.  

Place the rice in a large fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Shake rice vigorously in strainer to remove all excess water.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or 12-inch heavy-bottomed ovensafe straight-sided sauté pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the rice and fry, stirring frequently, until it is golden and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes.  Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic and the minced jalapenos (the two without the ribs and seeds); cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.  Stir in the pureed tomato and onion mixture, chicken broth, tomato paste and salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Cover the pan and transfer to the oven; bake until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro (if using) and the reserved minced jalapeno (the one with the seeds and ribs) to taste.  Serve with lime wedges, if desired.