I hope you never pick up a box of “Mexican” rice from the grocery store aisles ever again after trying this recipe. Take care to pay attention and you will be rewarded with the best rice you’ve ever tasted.
1 cup long-grain white rice
2 large plum tomatoes, about 8 oz., cut into chunks
½ of a small white onion, about 3 oz., cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups chicken stock, or 2 cups water mixed with 1 tbsp. chicken bullion
2 to 3 tbsp. oil
½ cup frozen peas, still frozen
Rinse the rice in a strainer until the water runs clear; turn the rice out onto paper towels or a tea towel to drain and dry a bit. You will be sautéing the rice in oil and you don’t want the rice to be wet when it hits the pan.
You’ll need to get your blender out for this. Add to the blender jar the tomato, onion, garlic, and stock. Blend until fully pureed. Taste for salt; if you’ve used unsalted chicken stock you will need to add about 1 ½ tsp. salt. If you’ve used chicken bullion, taste and add more salt if necessary. The broth should taste salty, as the rice is bland and will absorb all this flavor.
In a 10-inch non-stick fry pan heat the oil. When it starts to shimmer add the rice. Turn the heat to low; stir and toss the rice to coat with the oil. Keep cooking and stirring the rice so that it doesn’t stick, about 5 minutes. The goal is to have the rice turn from chalky white to translucent; keep the heat low so that the rice doesn’t brown. When the rice is ready it should move freely in the pan when you toss or stir.
Once the rice has achieved this status, pour in the liquid. Bring the rice to a medium boil (or what I would call a hard simmer), and stir in the frozen peas. Do not stir anymore past this point as that will break up the grains of rice; continue to boil for 6 to 7 minutes. When the rice starts showing signs of thickening along the edges of the pan, and the broth has significantly diminished by about half, it’s time to turn the pan off. Cover the pan with a lid if you have one or a large piece of foil tightly crimped around the edge of the pan. Let the rice sit on the hot burner, but with the heat off, for 15 more minutes to absorb the rest of the broth and continue steaming.
Fluff the rice and turn out into a serving bowl. Accept compliments.
To make this dish one day ahead of time don’t add the peas, and simply let the rice sit for 10 minutes instead of 15 minutes to finish cooking. This will result in slightly al dente grains. Spread the rice out on a cookie sheet so it won’t continue to cook, and refrigerate when cool.
When you are ready to serve the rice, place it into an oven-proof serving dish, add the frozen peas on top, sprinkle with a few tablespoons of water, cover with foil, and warm in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Now your rice should be perfectly cooked.
Notes and Instructions
Recipe credit: Javier Arevalo
Photo credit: Linda McElroy