Simple Mexican Red Rice~ Arroz Estilo Mexicano

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.

This recipe was prepared with canned tomato sauce and chicken/tomato bouillon
This recipe was prepared with canned tomato sauce and chicken/tomato bouillon
Arroz Estilo Mexicano, my version of my Mom's Red Rice
Arroz Estilo Mexicano, my version of my Mom’s Red Rice with some added smoked paprika and chile powder for an intense red color

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.

Fresh Tomato Sauce for This Batch...and Always the Chile Serrano!
Fresh Tomato Sauce for This Batch…and Always the Chile Serrano!

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.

Ingredients

Olive oil
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

Gather your ingredients and measure out what you will need for the recipe.
Gather your ingredients and measure out what you will need for the recipe.

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.

For me, toasting the rice is one of the key steps to a great flavored rice dish.
For me, toasting the rice is one of the key steps to a great flavored rice dish.
When using freshly blended tomato sauce, the rice will  come out a light orange color.
When using freshly blended tomato sauce, the rice will come out a light orange color.

Directions

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.

If you choose to leave the onion pieces larger, just add them in with the cilantro and garlic before adding the liquid to the rice.
If you choose to leave the onion pieces larger, just add them in with the cilantro and garlic before adding the liquid to the rice.

My Mom always prepared her rice with the larger pieces of onion, but I prefer mine with the diced and sauteed onions.

If using fresh veggies, like carrots, I like to add mine as soon as the liquid  goes into the rice. They need moe time to cook than the frozen variety.
If using fresh veggies, like carrots, I like to add mine as soon as the liquid goes into the rice. They need more time to cook than the frozen variety.
The less you stir and disturb the rice, the less starchy it will be.
The less you stir and disturb the rice, the less starchy it will be. Fluff with fork when ready to serve. If you want your peas to have more snap, steam them separately and fold them into the cooked rice before serving.

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.

This lighter red rice was prepared with the freshly blended tomato sauce
This lighter red rice was prepared with the freshly blended tomato sauce, the serranos were sliced and the tomatoes were diced instead of blended.

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.

Rice! Rice! We Love Rice!!
Rice! Rice! We Love Rice!!

Marinated Salsa Chicken Spiedies

Marinated Salsa Chicken Spiedies
Spiedies! A great New York find. Marinated cuts of beef, pork, lamb or chicken on a skewer then grilled. It reminds me of summer and it’s a great dish to prepare for any cook out. For this version of spiedies, it was still too cold to grill outside, so I baked them in the oven. It’s a quick cook in a high temperature oven. The marinade time is longer than the actual cooking time. They are delicious in a crusty roll garnished with sauteed peppers and onions and dressed in a spicy barbeque sauce. I like to prepare extra marinade and cook it until it reduces. It makes a great sauce as well. If I was going to grill these, I would have skewered them for sure. But since I baked them, it was just as easy to spread them out on a lined baking sheet. Every summer they have a huge Spiedie Fest at one of our local parks. It is attended by thousands of people and they have several teams competing for “The Best Spiedies” in the state. You won’t go home hungry!
Marinated Salsa Chicken Spidies on a Crusty Roll
Marinated Salsa Chicken Spiedies on a Crusty Roll

For Chicken
2 pounds boneless chicken breast or chicken thighs
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
4 cloves garlic,sliced
3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/2 tablespoon crushed Mexican oregano
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and fresh cracked pepper

Marinated Salsa Chicken Spiedies with a Spicy Barbeque Sauce
Marinated Salsa Chicken Spiedies with a Spicy Barbeque Sauce

Directions

1. Slice the chicken breast into 1-inch pieces and transfer to a glass bowl and set aside. Combine all of the remaining ingredients for the marinade into the blender or processor, pulse until well blended. Taste for salt. Add the marinade to chicken and stir well to combine. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours.

2. Remove chicken from refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Drain off excess marinade. Now you can skewer the chicken pieces for kabobs or you can just spread them out onto a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 20 to 23 minutes, turning skewers over after 11 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve on crusty bread rolls Yields up to 6 servings. 

Marinated Salsa Chicken Spiedies
Marinated Salsa Chicken Spiedies

Tips~ Serve with sauteed poblanos, jalapeños and onions and garnish with a warm barbeque sauce or prepare extra marinade and cook it on low until it reduces.

 

Migas con Huevo~ Breakfast Tortilla Skillet

Migas con Huevo y Chorizo

Migas con Huevo is a typical dish served for breakfast through out Mexico. Migas, refers to the sliced or torn pieces of corn tortllas that are cooked until crispy. They are mixed with onions, chile peppers and scrambled eggs. It is a popular dish to prepare during lent, without the chorizo, of course.  Some tasty ad ins could be tender nopales (cactus), rajas (poblano strips) and don’t forget the many  delicious Mexican cheeses available today.  My Mom would prepare Migas at least a couple of times a week. The ingredients are  inexpensive and a great way to feed a large family. One of my favorite things I love about this dish, is the crispy tortillas that are sticking up and out from the scrambled eggs.  And don’t forget the warm salsa to garnish the Migas. It’s a must have!

Migas, torn or cut pieces of tortilla mixed with eggs and chorizo
Migas, torn or cut pieces of tortilla mixed with eggs and chorizo

Olive or canola oil
6 corn tortillas, sliced in quarters
1/3 white onion, diced
1 serrano, minced
6 large eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper to taste
5 ounces of cooked mexican chorizo, crumbled
*Crumbled queso fresco or shredded jack cheese, optional

The simplest and most common of Mexican salsa's, also known as Salsa de Mesa or Table Salsa
The simplest and most common of Mexican salsa’s, also known as Salsa de Mesa or Table Salsa

For Salsa 
2 to 3 roma tomatoes, sliced in half
2 fresno peppers, stems removed
1/4 white onion
1 large clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon lime or lemon juice
Salt to taste

I always gather my ingredients before I begin to cook
I always gather my ingredients before I begin to cook

Directions 

1. In a large skillet, preheat 3 tablespoons of oil to medium for a few minutes. Add the tortillas and spread out evenly.The tortillas will absorb the oil, so you may have to add another tablespoon before adding eggs. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes or until tortillas are crispy, turning as needed.

2. To prepare the salsa, add all ingredients, minus the lemon/lime juice and salt, to a glass bowl. Cover with paper towel and cook on high for 6 minutes. Carefully remove from microwave and transfer to the blender. Add lemon or lime juice and salt to taste. Pulse to blend until desired consistency. 

3. To the crisp tortillas, add onion ans serrano peppers. Cook for 5 minutes. Add in the eggs, season with salt and pepper. Fold in the cooked chorizo and cook until warm. Serve with fresh salsa and avocado slices. Yields up to 4 servings.

Migas con Huevo and Fresh Salsa is perfect for Sunday brunch
Migas con Huevo and Fresh Salsa is perfect for Sunday brunch

Tips~ I like to cook my Mexican chorizo separately and then drain in onto a plate lined with paper towels before adding it to the migas. But you certainly cook add it to the migas when you add the onions and cook it along side.