04 February 2011

Mexican Rice - Sopa de Arroz






Mexican rice was a mystery to me until I had a lesson from my friend Julia, who came by her technique honestly. Julia claims to be not much of a cook, but I've had some mighty tasty things out of her kitchen! And until I had my rice lesson from her years ago, my so-called Mexican rice was awful, very wet and tomato-y, definitely not authentic. I've made a few changes over the years, but the technique remains the same. I leave out the garlic these days, but you don't have to. Just throw the whole cloves in the pan with the rice and oil, and remove them later after they've worked their magic.

Where a lot of people go wrong (IMHO) with Mexican rice is in the seasoning. They think any food called Mexican needs to be full of spices. But that is, according to Julia, "totally unnecessary!" Think about it. You need some variety on your plate, something mild to balance out the heat and spice of everything else.

I've found the only way to get consistent results with any rice recipe is to use the same rice and the same pan each time--especially when making a large quantity. I perfected my recipe using Lundberg organic long-grain white rice and a 5 1/2-quart Le Creuset Round French Oven. So once the recipe comes out to your liking, always use the same rice and the same pan.This amount of rice will feed a crowd, but I make this amount every time. Just refrigerate or freeze the leftovers, and reheat in the microwave.

Mexican Rice - Sopa de Arroz

(Makes 20 servings)

7 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth or water, if you're vegetarian)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 2-pound bag medium- or long-grain white rice (I use Lundberg organic long grain)
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (I use Muir Glen organic; it is THE best!)

1 In 3-quart saucepan, bring broth and salt to a simmer while browning the rice. The amount of liquid called for varies between brands. My preferred brand calls for a ratio of 1 1/2 cups liquid to 1 cup rice, and I think that ratio would be best with any brand.

2 In 5 1/2-quart pot, heat olive oil and stir in rice (straight from the package--do not rinse). Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until rice is lightly browned. This may take 20 to 30 minutes. Throw in a few whole cloves of garlic at some point, if you like. They can be removed before the next step or before serving.

3 Gradually stir tomato sauce into rice and cook for a minute or two, then add broth to rice. Bring to a full boil and stir just once. Put the lid on tightly, reduce heat to the very lowest setting and leave undisturbed for the length of time specified on your rice bag, usually about 20 minutes.

4 If this is your first time making this, take a really quick peek to see if liquid has evaporated and rice is done. Cover and let stand, off heat, for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Garnish, if you like, and serve.

56 comments:

Jenn said...

That's about how I make my Mexican rice too! Your friend Julia is right, all those extra spices are unnecessary! Your photo is lovely!

Cranberry Morning said...

Thanks for the rice recipe, Jean. Twenty servings! That's serious rice. LOL But I also always make more rice than I'll need at the moment. It's a great thing to have on hand!

Jean said...

Thanks, Jenn! I was afraid a bowl of rice wouldn't be very photogenic!

Jean said...

Yes, Judy, that's a lot of rice. But I just keep the big pot in the fridge and eat rice all week, if it's just the two of us. It reheats perfectly in the microwave--just put some in a bowl or plate, leave it uncovered and hit the minute button once or twice.

Melanie said...

Sounds (and looks) delicious. Might try this this weekend.

Jean said...

Melanie, thank you. I hope you will. Serves a crowd. And leftovers are great.

Marc Frederic said...

One for Monday I think!!

Jean said...

Super! Hope you like it, Marc!

Cursuri Engleza said...

First of all, let me tell you that I am a huge fan of rice. Especially hot spiced rice. But a while ago I started to take care of my stomach and now I eat not so spiced rice. So, I think this recipe is perfect for me. Plus, you are right: there has to be a balance of spices in your plate.

Jean said...

Thank you, Cursuri! I love it when someone else appreciates that "balance on the plate." I hope you (and your stomach) will enjoy the rice!

Thomas Sullivan said...

Butter! Butter, I say. Butter heals all things. I take it for granted that when I cook rice it will come out either as bullets or close to the texture of mashed potatoes. So the problem is always one of remedy. Have become rather good at reanimating the stuff. Call it "Lazarus Rice." Under a watchful eye, and mumbling incantations, I use a little water, butter (OK HeartSmart), and sometimes a sauce or two to bring Uncle Ben back to life in a skillet with constant stirring and CPR. Just sayin'.

-- Sully (I'll add my URL in case my seldom-successful attempts to post this week suffer the same fate as my rice)
www.thomassullivanauthor.com

Jean said...

Och, m'lad, 'tis far easier to just follow my explicit directions in the first place. Then there would be no need for elaborate interventions!

ladymorgiana said...

yummy rice is yummy! thank you for sharing and kind words over Chef's Dennis blog :)

Anonymous said...

Sure would like to have a good recipe for Albondigas Soup?

Jean said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Hope you'll make the rice soon.

Jean said...

Albondigas Soup? I haven't made that in years, decades, in fact. I'll have to dig through some boxes to find out how I made it. Check back here regularly and you just might find it one of these days!

Angie's Recipes said...

Didn't know Mexican rice could have looked this good! I have learned something new today! Thanks, Jean, for sharing the recipe.

Jean said...

Thank you so much, Angie! I think it's the browning of the rice in oil and then not stirring it at all once the liquid has been added that makes it so fluffy.

Mary said...

I love this and the balance of spices in your rice. I have a green version that I also love to serve. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

Jean said...

Thanks, Mary! I'll be finishing off the last of this big batch of rice today at lunch. Can't wait!

Simply Life said...

I loooove Mexican rice -this looks great!

Jean said...

Thank you! Wasn't too sure how the photo would come out, but was pleased that it shows how fluffy and separate the rice grains are.

Ma What's 4 dinner said...

Mine was always too tomato-y!! I'll try yours because it looks beautiful and perfect.

Lots of yummy love,
Alex aka Ma What's For Dinner
www.mawhats4dinner.com

Jean said...

Thanks, Alex! Hope you like it as much as we do.

chrisantolentino said...

I used fresh tomatoes instead of tomato sauce but it still turned out really well. Definitely added to my repertoire! Thanks!

Jean said...

Thank you, Chrisan! Glad you liked it. When I use fresh tomatoes instead of sauce, I just chop them very finely and cook them down and use just a scant cup of it. But much of the time I can't get my hands on any really good fresh tomatoes!

foodie and the chef said...

I've never made Mexican rice before (although I've eaten it many a happy time)! Thanks for sharing your secrets :)

Jean said...

Mimi and Katie, thank you so much! It goes well with other types of food as well. Love it with meatloaf!

Thewholesomehome said...

I just made the rice and it was so legit!! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

Jean said...

Lindsey, thanks so much! Glad you liked it and found it "legit"! I'm just getting ready to pull some from the last batch out of the freezer.

Anonymous said...

The rice recipe is right on, simple is the way to go for balance. Some parsley,peas, and carrots are okay, if you want a little more. And, using fresh tomatoes when they're in season is even better. --Bill

Jean said...

Thanks, Bill. Quite a compliment, coming from a Mexican food expert like yourself! Yes, peas are my favorite add-in. Of course, I love peas with nearly anything. And I've used fresh homegrown tomatoes cooked down. (My tomato crop pretty much failed last year, due to the weather. But I'll try again this year.)

Jamie said...

After years and years of failing to make mexican rice right. I made this last week and it came out GREAT!! My hubby said that it taste better than most restaurants. Thank you so much for posting this, this is now a staple in my household. Was sent over my foodgawker.

Jean said...

Jamie, thanks so much! You made my day! I love it when someone gets good results with my recipes.

kfoster said...

This looks delicious! I have to cook a Mexican rice dish for my family's Christmas dinner and I think I'll try this one. If adding peas and corn, would you add it at the same time as the garlic?

Jean said...

Thank you! When adding frozen peas (and corn, I suppose, though I've never added corn), pour them on top of the rice just one or two minutes before the end of the cooking time. Do not stir them in. That and the 10 minutes standing will give them all the cooking they need and should retain the bright color. Let me know how it turns out for you!

Ausmerican Housewife said...

Can you do this in a rice cooker after browning the rice?

Anonymous said...

I was raised on southern California poor mans Mexican food (meaning authentic Mexican). So when my husband joined the navy 18 years ago we have been sent all over the place. Nobody ever understands that the Mexican food I grew up on and wanted was simple. Not spicy or saucy or full of everything that people put in their version of Mexican food. This rice is exactly what I have been looking for to add to my recipes, it turned out perfect. No extras just simple to go with a fresh pot of retried beans and fresh flour tortillas and some carnitas. My son is stil eating rice, the batch has really gone a long ways. Thank you, this will go in the family cook book.

Jean said...

Thank you so much! In two years of blogging I have never received a greater compliment! That this will go in your family cookbook means more to me than you could know. Enjoy!

Emily said...

I have made this rice numerous times and it always comes out amazing! Thank you so much for posting the recipe it is a life changer!

Jean said...

Emily, thank YOU so much for letting me know! I really appreciate the feedback. Have you tried my homemade flour tortillas yet?

Anonymous said...

My mom does this just the same, except she pours the comino in! We're Tejanos though.

Jean said...

The comino is good! I usually put so much of it in the rest of the meal, the rice doesn't need it! Thanks for stopping by!

Stephanie said...

We had a taco bar at my daughter's birthday party recently and I looked everywhere for a rice recipe. In the past when making batches of Mexican rice for a large group, I would always try to double batch the Spanish Rice-a-roni. Horrible idea! It always came out bad and I never felt comfortable serving it to guests so I gave up. This time I was determined to find an easy recipe that I could handle for the party. Let me tell you, this rice was a HUGE HIT! Everyone loved it, couldn't believe I made it and said it tasted like it was from a really great Mexican restaurant. Even a family friend, who previously owned a Mexican restaurant was impressed! The rice was just perfect all around! I plan on using this again and again in future get togethers, and have referred friends to this page for the recipe! Thanks for posting it!

Jean said...

Stephanie, thank you so much! Yours is the kind of comment every blogger wants to hear! I am so glad you and your guests liked the rice! Thanks again. (PS You might want to try my homemade flour tortilla recipe next.)

Emerald M said...

Hi! I'm new to your blog, but loving it so far! I have a question about the rice recipe though. What would the proportions be if I were just using 1 or 2 cups of rice? I don't have room in my fridge for 20 cups. lol And I'm terrible at math. :(

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Emerald, a 1-pound bag of rice would be 2 1/2 cups of rice, so you could just cut the recipe in half. Or use 1 1/4 cups of rice and divide all the other ingredients by 4. That's much simpler than trying to figure out amounts for 1 or 2 cups of rice. Hope this helps!

Jennifer said...

I tried to make the rice a few weeks ago, and it was a disaster, but my own fault. While browning the rice, I had my kids running all over the kitchen and climbing up my legs, and the rice burned. I was so disappointed, your picture looks so good! We are making tamales and homemade refried beans, so I think I will try the rice again... Wish me luck!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

I do, Jennifer! Cooking with kids underfoot is a whole different ballgame! But I'm sure you won't burn the rice this time. Do let me know how it turns out for you.

georgia said...

Great recipe! The rice came out perfect! Thanks!

Jean | Delightful Repast said...

Georgia, thank you for letting me know! I'm so glad you like it.

Anonymous said...

I'm having a crowd (50+) for a taco feed and wondering about doubling the recipe. Doable or should I do 2 batches?

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Anon, I would definitely do it in two batches. Get two big pots going at the same time. Doubling in one huge pan *might* be okay, but I wouldn't want to risk it.

Anonymous said...

I agree, thank you! :)

Anonymous said...

Jean do you think I could make this and then keep warm in a crock pot for a taco bar? Or would it dry out?

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Anon, I think a slow cooker set on Low would probably do a good job of keeping it warm without drying it out. Thanks for the idea!

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