A good Spanish Rice recipe should be in everyone’s cook book as it is a staple in anyone’s cooking, in fact, my mother used to say…
“If you want to know if the person can cook, look at their rice”
Spanish rice, red rice or arroz rojo is a Mexican side dish made from white long grain rice, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and other ingredients. It is traditionally made by sautéing the rice in a skillet until it is golden brown. Water or chicken broth is then added along with chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce.
Even though I am giving you a set recipe to a basic “Spanish Rice” here are few points you need to consider and know about.
-If you have homemade chicken broth, use it! It is best to make rice when you have the need of the chicken meat allowing you to use the broth left from cooking the chicken to cook your rice. Remember that ultimately your rice is going to carry the flavor profile you give your broth and just like everything else, fresh and homemade is best; and that's what will take this Spanish rice from good to great.
-The varieties of rice are typically classified as long – medium - and short grained.
The grains of long-grain rice (high in amylose) tend to remain intact after cooking, preventing it from sticking resulting in a more fluffy rice, so look for long grain rice when making your Spanish rice, this is the one I recommend to use.
Medium-grain rice (high in amylopectin) becomes stickier. Medium-grain rice is used for sweet dishes, for Risotto in Italy, and many rice dishes, such as Arròs negre - Arroz Negro, in Spain.
Short-grain rice is often used for rice pudding.
In some occasions you find Spanish rice with chopped carrots, peas, potatoes, corn, roasted vegetables, you can add these vegetables to your rice by folding them in at the last stages of cooking of your rice
2 tablespoons olive oil (can use up to 1/4 cup)
1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups of medium or long-grain white rice
3 cups* chicken stock (or vegetable stock if vegetarian)
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste or 1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes, strained
1 Pinch of Mexican Oregano
1 teaspoon salt
*Check the instructions on the rice package for the proportions of liquid to rice. They can range from 1:1 to 2:1. If your rice calls for 2 cups of water for every cup of rice, then for this recipe, use 4 cups of stock for 2 cups of rice.
You can easily brown the rice and onions, and add cold stock and tomatoes to it, bring to a simmer, cover and cook, all in one pot.
Brown the rice:
Heat olive oil in large skillet on medium/high heat. Add the rice and stir it so that the rice is lightly coated with the oil. Cook on medium high heat, stirring often, until much of the rice has browned.
Add onion, garlic:
Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently another 3 minutes, until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook until the onions are translucent and softened, about a minute more.
Add the broth, tomato sauce, oregano, salt, to the rice and bring it to a slow boil, cover the pot and lower the heat to barely maintain a low simmer.
Cook for 15-25 minutes, depending on the type of rice and the instructions on the rice package. Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
Fluff with a fork or spoon to serve.
Chef Martin Lopez