I can't contain how excited I am to have discovered this great recipe! I am usually not impressed with typical Mexican-American red rice, but I feel like I've never given it a fair shot, because I don't eat at good Mexican restaurants to begin with, and growing up we always made our Mexican rice with instant rice and a spice packet. So it's almost like saying I'm not impressed with Top Ramen, which should go without saying. It's all about the ingredients you start with.
Does adding peas to Mexican rice seem weird to anyone else? It made me feel like I was making fried rice. But I have to admit, I love the added burst of color they add to the dish. And I'm always trying to add extra veggies so this is something I can certainly get on board with.
Since I'm just an amateur cook, I don't know if this is true or not, but it seems like cooking the rice in oil first like Bayless suggests help to keep the rice from clumping together at the end. This is a technique I want to remember for other rice dishes as well.
My favorite way to eat leftover Mexican rice? Mix in leftover taco meat and/or kidney beans, shredded cheese, and chopped tomato for a delicious one-bowl meal.
Classic Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo)
adapted from Rick Bayless - Mexican Everyday
Notes: We made this with fresh salsa from the refrigerated section of the grocery store (I love Emerald Valley brand). A jarred non-refrigerated variety would work too.
Bayless has a whole list of other vegetables you can add if you want - halved garlic cloves, chopped onion, and sliced mushrooms can be added with the rice, and cubed carrots, parsnips, butternut squash, or kohlrabi can be added with the salsa. Chopped snow peas or green beans can be used instead of the peas.
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1 1/2 cups medium-grain white rice
1 cup of your favorite bottled tomato salsa
1 cup good quality chicken broth
1 1/2 cups frozen peas (optional)
Set the oven to heat to 350 F. In a 3 quart oven-proof saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and rice. Cook the rice in the oil, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, or until they all have turned from translucent to milky-white. Some of them might start to look a little toasty - that's ok.
Add the salsa, broth, and 1/2 teaspoon salt (that how much salt to add if using normally salted salsa and broth). Stir together to thoroughly combine, then let it come up to a boil.
Cover, and move the pot to the middle rack in the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes. Uncover, scatter the peas over the top (if using), replace cover and bake for about 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and let stand about 5 minutes.
Fluff the rice to release the steam and mix in the peas.
Bayless also gives instructions for preparing this dish in a rice cooker. First, sauté the rice in the oil in a separate skillet, then scrape into a rice cooker, and add the remaining ingredients. Don't use the peas, or cook them separately in the microwave and add them in just before serving.