My husband is from Chiapas, Mexico. He is a direct descendant of the Mayan Indians and is part of the Ch’ol tribe. He and his family speak Ch’ol as their first language which is very similar to Maya (remember the movie Apocalypto?). I love when we travel to Mexico to visit his family. His sister in-law cooks for us and makes the most amazing food. She, like most of the Ch’ol women, cook over a wood fire stove. I’m always amazed at how she knows how to move the logs around just right to get the perfect temperature for cooking. I watch in awe as she makes stacks of tortillas or complicated mole (pronounced “mo-lay”) sauces with tons of ingredients.
I have tried several times to learn how to make tortillas and other things while I’m down there, but I guess I’m just too “gringa”. At least I provide them with some comic relief as they watch my epic fails. I remember one time they wanted to watch me make some real, authentic American food. I had packed a couple of boxes of mac n’ cheese because I was worried that my boys wouldn’t eat anything (God forbid my super picky eaters would have to eat chicken attached to a bone). I remember how the ladies watched in awe (or disgust) as I pulled out the shiny packet of orange goo and squeezed it over the hot, steaming pasta. I stirred it all around, and I was done… the finest of American cuisine!
I may not be able to cook over a wood stove, but over the years I have learned to make some authentic Mexican recipes. Of course, I have adapted them slightly to make them a little easier for a gringa like me. One of the first authentic Mexican dishes I ever learned to make was Mexican rice. My brother’s wife (who is from Sonora, Mexico) taught me how to make it the way her mom makes it. I can honestly say that her mom’s rice is the best Mexican rice I have ever put in my mouth. She taught me to chop up fresh garlic, onion, tomato, and green pepper to add to the rice. Occasionally, I will make it that way, but typically I don’t have time (or I’m just too lazy) to chop and sautee. My laziness led me to create my own version of Mexican rice which I am going to share with you today.
First, you will need a good saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Pour in the oil and heat it on medium high. I typically use olive oil, but you could also use vegetable oil. Next, add your rice to the oil and toast the rice. This is the most important step in making Mexican rice. If you skip this step, you will end up with sticky rice. Sticky rice is fine if you’re eating Asian food, but for Mexican food, it’s just not the same. You will need to constantly stir the rice while toasting to make sure it doesn’t burn. Once you see all of the rice turning a light golden brown color, pour in the water. It will make a loud, sizzling sound that let’s everyone know you are the bomb (sorry, I grew up in the 90’s).
Then, you will add in one cube of Knorr chicken bouillon with tomato. I have not seen any other brands of chicken bouillon that also have tomato, but if you find some (and it’s cheaper than Knorr), try it out and let me know. If you can’t find this in your local supermarket, try going to a Hispanic or International market. If you don’t have one of those in your area, well…you need to move! I always cut the bouillon cube into small pieces so that it dissolves better.
After you add in the bouillon cube, add in one packet of Sazon Goya seasoning. This will give your rice that perfect red color without having to chop up tomatoes. Then, add in some salt to taste. You won’t need a ton of salt because of the bouillon cube. Stir it all around and make sure all the rice is covered by water. If it’s not, add a little more water…but not too much.
At this point, I let it come to a boil over medium high heat. Once it’s fully boiling, I let it boil for 3-5 minutes. Then, I cover it and turn the heat to low. I set my oven timer for 20 minutes and let it do its thing. Do not…I repeat, DO NOT take the lid off before those 20 minutes are up!
After 20 minutes, remove it from heat with the lid still on, and let it sit for another 3-5 minutes. Take the lid off and let that steam hit your face, ahhh! Take a fork and lightly fluff up the rice, do not stir. Give yourself a pat on the back because you just made perfect Mexican rice!
My Mexican husband gives this rice his stamp of approval, and believe me, he is very honest (maybe a little too honest) when it comes to my cooking. Sometimes I have to remind him that he married an American girl who grew up on fish sticks and mac n’ cheese, so give me a break.
If you want some great Mexican recipes to go with your scrumptious Mexican rice, follow me on Pinterest!
EASY MEXICAN RICE
Serves 4-6 people
- Heat oil in sauce pan over medium high heat. Add rice and toast until rice is golden brown.
- Add water, bouillon cube (cut into pieces), seasoning packet, and salt. Stir.
- Bring to boil and let boil over medium high heat for 3 – 5 minutes.
- Cover and reduce heat to low. Allow rice to cook with lid on for 20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let sit for 3 – 5 minutes.
- Remove lid and lightly fluff rice with fork. Serve.
Get a printable version of this recipe here.
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