Saturday, November 8, 2008

Mexican Rice

Yesterday, my husband came home from work with two dozen home-made pork hot tamales! What a treat! The mother of one of the Hispanic guys he works with was selling them at work. When hubby told me he'd be bringing home the tamales, I knew the perfect side dish I'd make to serve with it: Mexican rice!My mother made the best Mexican rice ever, and this is her recipe. She was always adamant that it was Mexican, and not Spanish rice. I'm not sure what the difference is, but it is a lot different than what you are served in restaurants as Spanish rice. It has a much richer flavor, probably from the bacon and the tomato soup.
This is not a quick rice to fix, you must stir the rice continuously while it's browning so that it won't burn. Then it has to simmer very slowly for 50 minutes while it's absorbing the liquid. It's worth every bit of trouble, though, I promise. The bad thing about it is that once you've eaten
this rice, you'll never want the other Mexican or Spanish rice dishes again.MEXICAN RICE (recipe from Elizabeth Anthony)

4 slices bacon
1 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 - 10 oz can tomato soup
1 - 10 oz can stewed tomatoes, broken up
½ cup rice
½ cup water
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
½ tsp salt

Cut bacon into small pieces, fry until crisp in cast iron skillet; remove. Cook onion, pepper, and garlic in bacon fat until golden; remove. Saute raw rice in skillet with bacon drippings, stirring constantly until brown (5-10 minutes depending on heat). Add all ingredients; cover tightly and cook slowly 50 minutes (or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed); stir occasionally. Remove cloves and bay leaf. Makes 5 - 6 servings.Now that is Mama's recipe verbatim. But of course, you know I modify
every recipe I touch, so here are my modifications:
First, don't bother to make this amount, go ahead and make a double recipe; I always double it, and even then, we rarely have much left over.
I don't fry the bacon in small pieces, I fry it in slices, then crumble it after it's cooled, when I add it back to the pan.
I like to use ground cloves simply so I don't have to search for them to remove them when the dish is ready. I use one shake of the ground cloves for each whole clove called for (4 shakes for the single recipe; 8 shakes for my doubled recipe).
My husband doesn't like tomatoes, so I use 2 cans of tomato soup, and leave out the tomatoes. (He loves tomato soup, salsa, and ketchup, he just doesn't like the tomato texture.)
If I want a meatier dish, I add as much extra bacon as I choose. Frequently I double the amount of bacon called for in the recipe, just remember to remove some of the extra fat before you sautee your onions and peppers.
This is a wonderful dish for cold winter nights, it is very hearty and filling. Also, it smells wonderful while cooking; nothing smells better than onions frying in bacon drippings! The dish can be fixed in advance and reheated in the microwave, or simply kept warm in a very low oven, but be sure to keep the lid on, or cover with foil so it won't dry out!
So, the next time you're having tamales, or enchiladas, or any Mexican food, please give this recipe a try, I promise you won't be sorry!