Monday, April 25, 2011

Spanish Rice

Before I get into this recipe I feel it necessary to make a statement: ahem

In posting this recipe for Spanish Rice, it is not my intention to start a riot.  It is not my purpose to offend you, your family, your grandmother, your country, or your culture.  Thank you.

I realize that this is one of those dishes that everyone has their own "family recipe" for.  Everyone in the family makes it the same way because that is how it is expected to be done.  Not that you couldn't tolerate a different recipe if it were served to you at someone else's home, or a restaurant, or something, but if you go to a family member's house and they serve you spanish rice, you already know exactly what its going to taste like because its the same recipe you use when you make it yourself.  Why?  Because that's they way you were taught!  Because that's the way your mom was taught.  Because that's the way your aunts, cousins, grandma, and great-grandmas were taught! 

I totally get it. 

So don't hate me, okay?  I just thought, since I personally know a lot of people who aren't really "cooks" at home, and they read this blog, that maybe they might want to learn how to make spanish rice.  Or, at least, my version of it.  So are we cool?  Its nothing personal, okay?

I love you.

Start by heating up some oil in the bottom of a large skillet.
I've already entered dangerous ground, here.  Some people are strict about the kind of oil they use.  Personally, I go back and forth between olive oil and vegetable oil.  Just depends on how I feel that day.  You can use whatever your grandma tells you to use.

Then add some dry rice to the skillet and "brown" it.  I'm a little confused about the use of this term because rice doesn't really brown unless you burn it.  And you don't want to burn your rice. 

Just toast it until it starts to turn white.  At this point, I like to add a few cloves of pressed garlic.

 I used to just crush them, but leave them mostly whole.  Since then, I've decided that I want the garlic flavor to be stronger, so now I press it.  I stir it in with the rice while its "browning" and let the garlic flavor infuse the rice and the oil its cooking in.  It smells divine.

Next, add some chicken broth to the skillet
and some water.
A little tomato sauce (sometimes I use tomato paste for a deeper flavor),
and a little salt.

Give this a good stir to evenly distribute all the tomato and salt.

This next step is optional, depending on how you were raised. 
I happen to like the flavor of cilantro, but many people don't.  Sometimes I add it to my rice, sometimes I don't.  But if you're going to add cilantro to your rice there is only one way to do it.  You must add 3-4 whole, unchopped sprigs of cilantro leaves to the top your cooking rice and, this is important, DO NOT STIR!  Once the cilantro touches the cooking liquid, you must not disturb the skillet until the rice is fully cooked!  This is the law.  Breaking this law will result in your drawn and quartered body.  Okay, maybe that's taking it a little too far, but you get the idea.

Put the lid on the rice leaving a little crack for the steam to escape.

Allow the rice to come to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer.  Allow the rice to simmer for about 20-25 minutes until all the liquid had been absorbed.

Then you have to "check the rice."  Use a spoon to push a little portion of the rice to the side so you can see the bottom of the pan.  If the bottom is dry and none of the rice sticks to the bottom, its perfectly done.  If you see a little liquid then let it simmer a few more minutes.  If your rice is stuck to the skillet, its overdone and on its way to burning.  Remove it from the heat immediately.  Chances are only the very bottom layer is burned and the rest is fine so don't freak out. 

When you remove the lid the cilantro will be laying, wilted and lovely, on the top of the cooked rice and it will smell wonderful.  You can pick it off, eat it, scoop around it, or feed it to your dog. The choice is yours.  This rice is a great addition to any mexican meal.  Did I mention my kids love it?  They could eat rice and beans everyday, I think. 

Spanish Rice Recipe
2 tbsp. olive oil or vegetable oil
1 c. uncooked rice
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1 c. chicken stock
1 c. water
2-3 tbsp. tomato sauce or tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
3-4 sprigs fresh cilantro, optional

Heat oil in a large skillet and brown the rice and garlic together.  Add chicken stock, water, tomato sauce or paste, and salt.  Stir until evenly distributed.  Add cilantro to the water (optional) and cover with a lid, leaving it slightly open for the steam to escape. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the rice is fully cooked and all the liquid is absorbed.


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