This Monday morning after Easter, I woke up with Mom on my mind. This happens after every major holiday. The memories of my childhood come flooding back in. And with the constant reminders on social media, it’s hard to escape the feelings of nostalgia. I have mentioned before that out of all of my Mom’s recipes, her rice recipe, holds a special place in my heart.
Every Mexican family has their own version of “Mom’s Rice”. On most days, the rice was prepared with a freshly blended tomato sauce, onions, 1 whole serrano pepper and minimal spices. I really don’t remember a day when it was not perfect. Well, at least in my eyes it was always perfect.
There are a few variations to her recipe. It was always prepared with a white long grain rice. She never measured any ingredients, which still amazes me. Most times she would add frozen peas or carrots if available. In a pinch she would use a splash of canned tomato sauce for the red color. It was not so much to flavor the rice, but just for color. While I was visiting my Tia(aunt) in Monterrey, she prepared her version of red rice by adding a cube of caldo de pollo con tomate (chicken/tomato flavored bouillon). It’s a combination of chicken and tomato bouillon and gives the rice a lighter red color. It has a distinct flavor, that I have to admit I have grown to love. Although I must say that the best recipes are the ones prepared with homemade broth when available. Read through the whole post for extra tips and troubleshooting, lol! It’s good to know, especially when preparing rice from fresh ingredients for the first time.
Tips~ If you like your rice with more color, you could add smoked paprika, chile powder, saffron or turmeric. Half a teaspoon is a good place to start.
Tips~ When using a freshly blended tomato sauce, pour it into a measuring cup. You really don’t want more than 1/3 cup or the rice may come out overcooked or mushy.
This is the version that I prepare on a regular basis.
1 cup of long-grain rice, I use only Jasmine rice these days
1 serrano pepper, left whole
1/2 cup white onion, diced (if you are not crazy about eating the diced onion, slice it into bigger cuts and then just remove the onion pieces when rice is done)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon each of crushed oregano, cumin and garlic powder, ( I like extra, so I use 1 teaspoon of each)
½ teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup tomato sauce or 2 roma tomatoes, blended until smooth
2 cups water
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules (if available use the Knorr brand that is tomato and chicken flavor together)
Small handful of cilantro, optional
Salt to taste
1/2 cup of frozen peas and carrots mixed, optional
Tips~ On this day, I prepared a bigger pan of rice, so there are extra ingredients. After you prepare the rice a few times, you will know whether you like it with fresh tomato sauce or canned, with diced onions or large onions that can be removed easily. Even whether you will use fresh or frozen vegetables…it’s all a matter of taste.
1. Add 1 cup rice and 2 1/2 tablespoons of oil to skillet and heat to medium. When rice starts to sizzle, stir to mix and toast for 5 minutes,
2. Add the serrano and onions and saute for another few minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
3. Add the oregano, cumin, garlic powder and pepper and saute for 30 seconds. This brings out more flavor. Add the tomato sauce (canned or fresh), water, bouillon and cilantro if using. Stir gently to mix.
4. When it comes to a boil, taste for salt. Cover and reduce heat to low. After 10 to 12 minutes, add the frozen peas and or carrots evenly over the top of rice. Cover and cook for another 7 to 9 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. If done, remove from heat and let rice sit for at least 10 minutes. When ready to serve, fluff with fork. Yields 4 to 6 servings.
My Mom always prepared her rice with the larger pieces of onion, but I prefer mine with the diced and sauteed onions.
Tips~ If your rice has absorbed most of the liquid and you see that the rice arounf the edges still looks uncooked, take a fork and gently move it towards the center. Add about 1/8 cup of extra water around the edge of pan. Cover and continue cooking.
Tips~ For a fuller more fluffed out rice, add a little extra broth .There is no exact set way to prepare this recipe. Add what you like and make it your own signature dish.