Thank you to Marcella Valadolid from Food Network for teaching me to finally make a decent tasting Mexican Rice with a great texture! I’ve cooked Mexican food since the late 70’s, so here’s proof that an old dog CAN learn new tricks. There’ll be no wet, soggy, gloppy rice using this method.
It’s so simple, but it’s the ratio of the rice to the liquid that really makes this perfect – since the tomatoes have a high moisture ratio, whizzing them in the blender with some of the broth and then making sure you have a total of four cups of liquid to two cups of rice is the secret here.
Mexican Rice, serves 8, cost about 66 cents.
- 3 tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth, you’ll need a little less
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large chopped onion
- 1 large finely diced carrot
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 2 cups medium grain rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 whole Serrano chile
- 1/2 to 1 cup of frozen peas
Cut the tomatoes in half, and remove the seeds and roughly chop. Add the tomatoes and 2 cups of broth to a blender and puree. Pour into a measuring cup and add enough broth to make 4 cups of liquid.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and carrots and saute for 4 minutes until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the rice and cook until slightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
Add the tomato broth mixture, stir and bring to boil. Add the salt, bay leaf, and the Serrano chile. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer until the rice is tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the pan from heat. Scatter the peas over the top of the rice, cover, and let the rice stand 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork, transfer to a serving bowl and serve.
Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:
- Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.
- Follow my Strategies – You’ll see them all explained on the upper left tab of every page and how I apply them, below.
- Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
- Read below for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving time and managing food.
- Recipe can be halved quite easily, or 1/2 can be stored in the freezer for a very short time period.
- Tomatoes: Canned whole tomatoes are fine in this – buy them on sale in the larger cans (28 oz) and freeze the tomatoes and juice that’s leftover. I look for $1.00 a can sale price, and use coupons and store specials whenever I can. If I don’t use canned, I’ll buy fresh for this recipe, but only if they look good and are on sale. Tomatoes for this recipe, 50 cents per can, I used three for a cost of 15 cents.
- Chicken Broth: As you’ll hear me say many times, I save my bones and vegetable scraps and make my own. I generally throw in a few black peppercorns, too. Cost: Free.
- Onion: I don’t care if they’re yellow or white, I just get the cheapest. These last a long time, weeks, so buy them if you see them on sale. I’m still using onions from December, 33 cents a pound. Store them in a cool place (I put them in a paper bag, loosely folded, and keep them near my back kitchen door in the winter. It’s always cool there. The other half, I just wrap in Glad Wrap (Cook’s Illustrated recently listed them as the best at keeping food at it’s best – buy it with a coupon, of course!) and keep on the top shelf of my refrigerator door so I won’t forget to use the rest.) Cost for this recipe: 10 cents.
- Garlic: Runs around 59 to 99 cents a head in my area in the boxes. It can be a little tricky to discern the best prices because it can also be bought by the pound, and generally you’ll pay less this way. I do cheat and buy a jar off season. I hang my head in shame, but to tell you the truth for most dishes, I can’t discern a difference – if I were making a dish solely based on garlic flavor, of course I’ll buy the fresh, but for any longer simmering sauces or dishes it doesn’t matter that much. This is of course, a home cook perspective, not a Chef’s…it’s also a time saver – how long does it take to peel and chop garlic? Not long, but it might be enough to slow me down on nights when timing is already an issue. I’ll also use the oil it is packed in to brush garlic bread or crostini. Cost for this recipe, for fresh garlic, about 3 cents.
- Carrots: Rarely go on sale, but when they do, stock up. Mine were 49 cents a pound, bought in December, but now they’re 99 cents a pound. Cost at 99 cents a pound: 20 cents.
- Olive Oil: I buy at about 8 cents an ounce with coupons and sales, (see discussion) so a tablespoon comes to about 2 cents.
- Rice: I do look for sales and match with coupons, and if I have enough coupons I’ll buy several bags or boxes. We’ve been lucky here with the Riceland Rice – the coupons out there have made their smaller boxes and bags cost pennies for most of the fall. If I have no coupon or limited coupons, I’ll buy the largest bag available (within reason, of course.) It pays when shopping for rice to check the rice/bean aisle, but also check in the ethnic or global aisles of the store: Mexican, Asian, and Indian in particular and compare prices. Rice is another product I’ll bring home and freeze for four days just to eliminate the possibility of any infestation. Cost for this recipe: Free. If I didnt’ have free rice, it would only be about 8 cents a cup, so I’ll call it 16 cents for practical purposes, as everyone may not have “free” rice.
- Serrano: If you don’t have a Serrano, don’t sweat it. Add some red chili flakes, a good spoonful of salsa or even some canned green chilis. Don’t be too concerned over the price per pound of Serrano – they’re so small they cost hardly anything. I used a few chili flakes when I made this last: Cost negligible.
Per Serving: 213 Calories; 3g Fat (10.8% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 42g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 734mg Sodium. Exchanges: 2 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.
Put Your own Spin on It:
For a deeper colored rice, stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste when adding the salt, bay leaf and Serrano chile. You can also stir in 1/4 cup of frozen peas when rice is done, before it’s rested.
My Pay Off:
A really good tasting rice that just takes minutes to throw together and far exceeds the more expensive packaged rice in taste and texture.
Recipe made February 2012