Sunday, April 27, 2008

San Diego 'Mexican' Rice

I love Mexican food. And really, living close to the Mexican border, it's not so much a cultural food in our town, but a way of life, and part of our normal eating regime.  'Mexican' food here, is simply FOOD. And, it's very different than in other parts of the country, where it's not quite as authentic. My kids clamber for quesadillas, tacos, taquitos, beans and rice; just as often as they do for hamburgers, hot dogs, and fries. Taco Tuesday is a common local special, and we do our own in-house version weekly (although not always on Tuesdays).

One of my favorite go-to sides, is Mexican rice. Mine uses local influences, along with my kids' taste preferences, but is a solid representation non-the-less.


Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 of a sweet yellow onion, diced
1 cup chopped carrots
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T chili powder
1 T cumin
1 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups of short grain, white rice
2 T tomato paste
1 box of chicken stock (4 cups)
1 c fresh peas
2 ears of corn, kernels removed
2-4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and sliced (depending on their size, you want about 1 1/2 cups)
1 can green chilies (can be omitted if your guests don't like spicy... I tend to use only a 1/2 can or non at all when cooking for just the kids)
1/2 can of tomato sauce (I prefer San Marzano)


Coat the bottom of a large, rounded-bottom, sauce pan with olive oil. Heat oil until slightly smoking. Add onions and carrots, stirring frequently, and cook until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add garlic, salt, cumin, and chili powder. Once the spices have been incorporated add rice, continuing to stir frequently. When rice has started to brown and stick to the bottom of the pan a little bit, add in the tomato paste. Stir for an additional 3 minutes. Add fresh tomatoes and chicken stock. Cover. Turn heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes, occasionally lifting the lid to stir and check the broth level. When about 3/4 of the broth has been absorbed add in peas, corn, chilies and tomato sauce. Cover and cook for 5-10 more minutes, until broth is completely absorbed. Add additional salt and cracked black pepper to taste. 

* You can, and I have on occasion, substitute frozen peas and corn for fresh, if neither is in season.

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