For my sweet Lometa, who asked me to post this. Bet you didn't think I was going to node again, did you?

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Swap in Ohio recently, and I can tell you with confidence that not only is his recipe for Mexican red rice (above) outstanding, but he is really good looking and downright sexy. Nevertheless, I was taught how to make a variation of this staple of Mexican cuisine by my housemate Jorge, a first generation Mexican American from Fontana, California, and it varies significantly from the red rice you might find in many restaurants outside of Peru, not to mention my dear Swap's recipe. It's somewhat similar to Tomato rice as noded, but less "fake" somehow.

Now, you should know that the instructions I list below are not exactly what I was taught, as I have a rather common habit of making minor adjustments to every recipe I come upon while I'm cooking, until I suit it perfectly to my particular individual taste. I've made dozens of batches of this rice by now, as it's become something of a staple in my vegetarian diet over the past year or so, and so it has seen numerous modifications before reaching the point at which I'm willing to share it with you now.

Being a major part of my own diet, I've recently doubled the old recipe in order to keep from having to make the damn stuff so often. I bought a brand new non-stick 4-quart cooker (Is it a pan? A pot? It's hard to say) specifically for this purpose, and I've been delighted with the results. You will want something similar to prepare this recipe in, as it yields just over half a gallon (two quarts) of rice. Alternately, you can safely halve the recipe and do it up in a standard 3-quart pot with no problems. Now, on with the cooking already!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of rice, standard bleached short grain
  • 4 tablespoons of corn oil
  • 2.1 oz. (6 cubes) of Knorr Vegetarian Vegetable Bouillon
  • 4 cups boiling water
  • 7 3/4 oz. (1 can) of El Pato Brand tomato sauce ("Salsa de Chile Fresco")
  • 4 medium fresh tomatoes, or 3 large
  • 2 medium white or yellow onions, or 1 large
  • 2 fresh anaheim peppers, seeded
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, with seeds (optional)
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Method

First off, you are going to need a 4-cup Pyrex® measuring cup, or something similar that will not break when you pour boiling water into it. Get a tea kettle and put at least a quart of water into it, and put it on to boil. If you don't have a big measuring cup, you will need to pre-measure the water before boiling. Whatever you plan on pouring the boiling water into, sit it out and break up the six cubes of boullion into it. If you're not a vegetarian, you can use chicken or beef boullion of course, whatever suits your fancy. You should use the Knorr brand if possible, however, as their cubes are soft and extra large, and will produce a very dense concentration of stock, which is ideal for the purpose of this recipe.

While the kettle is on the boil, get out your chopping block and work on the veggies. Finely slice the peppers first, then the onions, with the tomatoes last. It's your call on how chunky you want your veggies, as they will all get soft in the pot with the rice. You can substitute canned tomatoes for fresh if you really have to, but fresh is always better. I dice mine up in half-inch cubes, which works well. Put all your veggies together in a large serving bowl for safekeeping until later. Grind your fresh black peppercorns over the top.

When the tea kettle boils, pour the water over the boullion and use a spoon to break up the chunks as much as possible. Mix the resulting broth up well so that it's dark and doesn't have any sizable bits of boullion left, then sit it aside.

Now for the rice. Pour the corn oil in the pan - corn oil is important here, and should not be substituted unless you absolutely have to. It makes a noticable difference in the flavor of the rice if you use canola or some other kind of oil instead of corn oil - just trust me on this. Heat the oil up on medium-high heat until it gets little air bubbles in it, then add your two cups of dry white rice. You are basically stir frying your rice in oil, which seems really weird if you've never done this before, but trust me - this is how it's done. Stir the rice with a wooden spoon (any spoon will do I guess), and keep stirring it. Don't let your rice burn! If you burn the rice, you've already ruined the recipe... throw it out and try again. Keep the spoon moving through the rice over medium to medium-high heat for about ten minutes, until the rice is a nice golden brown.

When the rice looks good and toasty (the nose knows - it will smell awesome!), turn the heat down to low and give the boullion mixture a stir. Put on an oven mitt and pour the 4 cup boullion mixture over the rice. Open the can of spicy tomato sauce and add it to the mix. (You can use regular tomato sauce if you prefer.) Stir well. Turn the heat back up to medium and let it bubble for a while. This is an important step in the process which I have screwed up numerous times, so pay attention! You want to reduce the rice and boullion mixture until the rice is no longer swimming around, and has plumped up some but not completely. The more liquid you reduce at this stage, the dryer and fluffier your rice will be in the finished recipe. If you leave too much liquid before adding the veggies, your rice will be sticky and moist, so it's your call on how you like it. This takes a little practice to figure out, so be advised.

When the rice is ready to your eye, add the veggies and mix well. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Your pot does have a lid, right? It better. Let everything simmer under the lid for about half an hour. Keep an eye on it though, so that it doesn't overcook or burn.

Results

Hot damn! This recipe yields just over two quarts of cooked rice, and can probably serve as many as eight people at once, if called for. I like to mix mine with a cup or two of pinto beans usually, or black beans occasionally, and eat until I'm full. I totally dig on spicy food, so this recipe is muy caliente, by the way. I even like to splash it all generously with Tapatío picante sauce and mix it up before eating, so if you've a cast iron stomach like I have, kick it up a notch! Fire rice is nice, baby, but I can't be held responsible for eating injuries.