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~ Doctoring Up a Box of Spanish-Style Yellow Rice ~

IMG_8623Mexican 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. 

I know I'm not alone on this point,  C-19 has changed what I store in my pantry -- it's not bad, just different.  In preparation for the lock down a few months ago, I stocked several boxes of Rice-a-Roni, four boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese, a big box of Hungry Jack instant mashed potatoes, a few boxes of Stovetop stuffing mix, Betty Crocker cheesy scalloped potatoes, and, because my family loves to eat Mexican-style food often, lots of Goya Spanish-style yellow rice mix.  Why?  I knew these easy-to-make convenience-food side-dishes not only have a long shelf life, they're tasty, and, with little effort I can make any of them taste really good.

Great Spanish-style rice from a box -- what the doctor ordered:

IMG_85721  7-ounce box Goya Spanish-style yellow rice

1  14 1/2-ounce can fire-roasted corn kernels

1  14 1.2-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

3  tablespoons salted butter

1/2  teaspoon ground cumin

1/2  teaspoon red pepper flakes

IMG_8573 IMG_8575 IMG_8581 IMG_8585 IMG_8587~Step 1.  Into a 2-cup measuring container, drain as much liquid as possible from the corn and the tomatoes -- be sure to get as much liquid out of the cans as is possible.  Add enough water to total 2 1/2 cups.  Pour the liquid into a 2-quart saucepan.  Add the butter, ground cumin and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a simmer over medium- medium-high heat.

IMG_8588 IMG_8593 IMG_8596Step 2.  Add the rice-and-seasoning packet to the simmering liquids. Cover the saucepan and lower the heat to a steady, very gentle simmer.  Cook, covered, until rice has absorbed the liquid and small holes appear across the surface -- 20-22 minutes.  Do not uncover the saucepan during the cooking process.

IMG_8599 IMG_8603 IMG_8605 IMG_8608~Step 3.  Using a fork, rake through the steaming hot rice to separate the grains.  Add and rake in the corn, followed by the diced tomatoes.  Serve immediately with your favorite Mexican food.

Every now & then, it's OK to enjoy thinking inside the box:

IMG_8626Doctoring Up a Box of Spanish-Style Yellow Rice:  Recipe yields, 4 generous cups/4-6 servings.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container; 1-quart saucepan w/lid; fork

6a0120a8551282970b0223c849deb2200c-800wiCook's Note: 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 full of chards or chunks of meat, poultry or shellfish as a main-dish".  Try my ~ Mexican-Style Adobo Rice (Meatless Spanish Rice) ~.    

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)


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