NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
You know what doesn’t get enough credit? White rice. It helps feed a large portion of the world, and is a relatively safe starch. Sure, it doesn’t have a lot of nutritional value, but it can easily become a vessel for other nutrients. Enter my Mexican rice recipe, which is chock-full of tasty and healthy stuff like grass-fed butter/ghee, tomato sauce, and homemade chicken stock.
Although it’s often called “Spanish rice” here in the US as well Mexican rice, no such thing exists in Spain. I’ve been making this side dish for several years, well before switching my diet. For this dish I like to simulate your standard Mexican restaurant rice – tangy, slightly salty, and with a tiny hint of chicken thanks to its use of broth/stock.
2 cups uncooked white rice
1 tbsp butter or ghee
1 clove garlic, minced
1 8oz can tomato sauce
2 cups chicken stock/broth
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
For this recipe I used the same short-grain rice we use in most of our Asian dishes. You can use long grain rice as well. While in most rice recipes it is a good idea to rinse the rice beforehand (it rinses out any starch residue or added folic acid for Vitamin B9 fortification), any recipe that includes toasting the rice beforehand (as in this recipe, paella, and risotto) should not be rinsed. In that regard, I tend to use non-fortified rice since studies have shown that it is an inefficient means to synthesizing Vitamin B9 and can cause other issues.
In a large skillet, warm the butter/ghee on medium/low heat for a few minutes. Add the rice and garlic, and toast the rice for about 10 minutes, stirring often. While the rice is toasting, combine the tomato sauce, chicken broth, salt and pepper in a separate bowl and stir everything together. When combined, your total liquid amount should be 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups.
The rice is ready when it is opaque and slightly browned, but not burnt. If you’ve ever made Rice-A-Roni, this might be a familiar sight.
Add the combined sauce/broth to the skillet, and turn up the heat to medium. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 50 minutes. Do not take the lid off!
After 50 minutes, remove the lid and gently stir around the rice to break it up. If it’s still a little soggy, replace the lid and cook on low for another five minutes, and check it again.
That’s it! Serve immediately and garnish with cilantro if you want to be fancy.