A recipe for easy, authentic Mexican rice! Plus, rice cooking tips for the perfect pot of rice.
Hailing from Texas, I make a lot of Tex-Mex dinners. Like, a lot. And, our family is no stranger to a fajita cookout. And, while the main dishes themselves were fairly easy to conquer, the sides took a lit-tle longer in the development department. The sides you would undoubtedly see on any Tex-Mex platter are rice and beans. Actually, let me rephrase that: Mexican rice and charro beans.
I wanted an authentic Mexican rice that could easily be made at home, and still rival the best Mexican restaurants in town. It took a few efforts to come up with the perfect mix of spices and vegetables to turn regular ol’ rice into authentic Mexican rice, but I’m proud to report, mission accomplished. Here’s how you do it:
HOW TO MAKE MEXICAN RICE
To turn your rice into Mexican rice, you only need to add a few extra ingredients and spices.
Mexican rice typically includes vegetables like onions, carrots, and sometimes even peas. The vegetables are sautéed in the saucepan and coated with tomato paste prior to adding to the broth. The tomato paste gives the rice is signature orange glow, and just a hint of acidity.
Once the broth is added, a touch of cumin and garlic powder go in, along with salt and pepper for an extra boost in flavor. Then, the rice is cooked to perfection and VIOLA! Perfect Mexican Rice.
So we know how to turn plain-Jane white rice into Mexican rice, but maybe we should chat a bit about how to cook rice in general…you know…just in case you could use a few tips in that department as well.
HOW TO COOK PERFECT RICE
There are four important things to keep in mind when making the perfect batch of rice: 1) maintain a proper simmer, 2) keep the lid on, 3) cook time and 4) resting time.
SIMMER DOWN NOW
In order to maintain a proper simmer, you need to know what a proper simmer is, and really, it’s pretty simple. You know what a boil is, yes? That’s pretty easy to determine.
Well, a simmer is sorta like a boil, but rather than those big popping bubbles that come to the water’s surface, we are looking for lots little tiny streaming bubbles, constantly making their way to the top.
You typically need high heat for a boil, you’ll probably only need low/medium-low heat (depending on your stove range settings) to maintain a simmer.
PUT A LID ON IT
Next, keep the lid on. We want the rice to steam, after all. Every time you pop off the lid, you are releasing the steam. It’s like opening the oven every five minutes when you’re baking. That’s a big no-no too, by the way. Resist the urge to do so.
If you just can’t stand it, and you need to see where the water level is within the pan, grab your heat pads, secure the lid and carefully tilt the pot to the side. If you see water, put the pot back down and walk away.
If you don’t see any water, it’s a good indication that it’s time to set the pot aside for resting.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING
The third thing you need to do to get a perfect pot of rice is set a timer. Don’t forget this step. We lead busy lives with lots of distractions. Timers help to keep dinner on track and the rice from scorching the bottom of the pan.
LET IT BE
Lastly, let it rest. Do. Not. Skip. This. Step. Sorry to be so abrupt, but it’s pretty important.
It allows the heat and steam to redistribute throughout the pot and makes for a fluffier, lighter batch of rice — perfectly cooked rice to be exact.
P.s. ONE LAST THING
Don’t assume all rice cook the same. White long-grain rice is not going to require the same amount of liquid, nor require as much cook time as brown rice. Same goes for Arborio, Bomba and the like.
Now that you have these basic rice-cooking guidelines under your belt, I think it’s safe to say you are well on your way to making some darn good rice tonight.
Once you’ve got the rice cooking process down, transforming it into Mexican rice is easy as could be. Savory and full-flavored, this rice is the perfect side to any Tex-Mex or Mexican food dinner, one that could easily be made at home, and most definitely rivals the best Mexican restaurants in town. Please, enjoy.
A recipe for easy, authentic Mexican rice!
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 carrots peeled and finely diced
- 1 white onion finely diced
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup white long-grain rice
Add butter and olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add carrots and onion to the saucepan, stir and cover for 6-8 minutes until softened.
Remove the lid and stir in the tomato paste, followed by the water, salt, garlic powder, cumin and pepper and raise heat to medium-high.
Allow mixture to come to a boil, stir in the rice and reduce heat to medium-low or low, just so that a simmer is maintained.
Cover the saucepan and allow to simmer for 18-20 minutes. Do not remove lid and do not stir.
Once all of the liquid has been absorbed, remove from the heat and set aside, still covered, for 10 more minutes. Do not skip this step.
Remove the lid and using a fork, fluff the rice. Allow to cool slightly, serve and enjoy.