~ Mexican-Style Adobo Rice (Meatless Spanish Rice) ~
Mexican rice became a staple on our family's table back in the 1980's. Whenever we ate in a Mexican restaurant, remarkably, our three kids would eat the side-dishes: the muli-colored veggie-bejeweled rice, the murky-earthy slightly-soupy refried beans, and, the bright-green garlic-laced guacamole. Without complaint or prodding, they'd slather and scoop 'em onto and into tacos, fajitas, carnitas (or whatever else they were eating), along with red or green salsa and the bottled hot-sauce du jour. Go figure, and, "shut my mouth wide open." I started stocking my pantry with whatever Texican-type ingredients I could find in our Central, PA grocery stores.
The biggest difference between Mexican rice and Spanish rice (as per me) is akin to the difference between a side-salad and a chef's salad. Both contain similar ingredients, but, the first gets eaten alongside the main course, while the latter is the main course. If anyone has a better description, I'm all ears, but, the bottom line: both are Spanish. When I think "Mexican rice", I think "tawny-red-tinged, onion-and-garlic laced, side-dish riddled with bits of vegetables (beans, corn and/or tomatoes, or peas and carrots)". When I think "Spanish rice", I think "protein-packed Mexican rice, chocked full of chards or chunks of meat, poultry or shellfish as a main-dish".
Kid-tested mother-approved Mexican rice (arroz Mexicano):
If anyone's got qualms with my definition of basic Spanish-type rice, simmer down. I'm not of Spanish heritage or related to anyone who is. I am, however, savvy enough to know there are differences between Mexican- and Spanish- rice recipes. While the word Mexican refers to one Spanish-speaking country, Spanish encompasses many countries, islands and territories on several continents, not to mention several states and cities right here in the USA. That means, when you come across an authentic recipe for a specific dish follow the recipe as written.
1 cup diced sweet onion
2 cups extra-long-grain or long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon each: garlic powder and sea salt
1/2 teaspoon each: ground cumin and jalapeño pepper
3 cups vegetable stock*
1 14 1/2-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 teaspoon Goya adobo all-purpose seasoning with pepper
1-1/4 cups cooked corn kernels
*Note: I use high-quality unsalted vegetable stock to make Spanish rice -- it allows the flavors of the spices to take center stage. Feel free to substitute beef or chicken or seafood stock, to complement the dish/meal being served, but, if the stock is salted, adjust my recipe, "to taste".
~Step 1. Heat oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium- medium-high. Stir in the garlic powder, cumin jalapeño pepper and salt. Add the onion. Adjust heat to sauté, stirring constantly, until onion is softened, 4-5 minutes. Add rice and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until grains are coated in oil and mixture is steaming, about 3 minutes.
~Step 2. Stir in the diced tomatoes, followed by the vegetable stock and the adobo seasoning. Stir thoroughly and bring mixture to a boil over high heat. When mixture comes to a boil, adjust heat to a slow, steady simmer, cover the pot and continue to simmer gently until rice has absorbed the liquid, about 20-22 minutes. Do not lift the lid during the simmering process.
Tip from Mel: When I cook rice I like to use a saucepan with a glass lid. This makes it easy to keep an eye on the progress without allowing the steam to escape -- and it works perfectly.
~ Step 3. Turn the heat off and allow rice to sit, covered on the stovetop for 2-3 additional minutes. Uncover the saucepan. Using a fork, gently rake through the rice with a fork to gradually separate the grains, starting at the top and working down to the bottom of the saucepan. Add the corn kernels and gently rake them into the rice. The residual heat from the rice will heat the corn kernels through.
Serve ASAP w/beef, chicken, pork, fish or shellfish:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; 1-quart measuring container; 4-quart saucepan w/lid (preferably a glass lid); large spoon
Cook's Note: The 1905 chef's salad. Never heard of it? Read on. The Columbia Restaurant, a chain of six or seven restaurants in The Sunshine State, is a 4th-generation family-owned business specializing in Spanish food. To say it's a tourist attraction is true, we ate there and as tourists on the recommendation of a native Floridian. Now, if I'm in Florida and there's a Columbia within striking distance, I'm going there just for the ~ 1905: It was a very good year for a salad. ~
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2018)