Round One: Mexico.

OR: SCREW THIS, I’M GOING TO A TACO TRUCK.

My foray into Mexican cuisine falls under the “I really don’t want to write about that” category. This dinner happened on the evening I reclaimed my home after a remodeling project. (One that included words that no home owner wants to hear, such as “black mold” and “colony of…”) So, to say the least, my mind and energy was not completely dedicated to the meal. Instead of thinking, “Yay, I’m going to learn to cook Mexican food!,” I was thinking, “Yay! That’s what my living room looks like without a bathroom vanity sitting in it for the first time in three months! I’m going to wax the floor!”

And so, the dinner was a failure. I started the grill late, had no appetizers ready, put cilantro (an ingredient that one of my guests would not eat) in everything, and somehow made rice that had the consistency of grits. Even though I washed it and everything. (Seriously, this is the second time my rice has turned to mush. It didn’t used to be this way; I’ve caught Maya’s curse.) My guests politely tried the rice mush and said it tasted nice, but it just didn’t seem like rice.

To top it off, half of my pictures went missing and the other half were crap. So instead of giving you another full menu (and risking copyright infringement threats from Mark Bittman’s lawyers for typing out his entire book on the internet), I will show you a picture of my new bathroom, give you the rice recipe (and dare you to make it) and, finally, I’ll give you the link to Taco Trucks Columbus. There’s good Mexican food in this city. It’s just not in my house.

Arroz a la Mexicana
from The Best Recipes in the World, Mark Bittman

serves 6

3 tablespoons lard or neutral oil, like corn or grapeseed (I had lard but didn’t use it because I have no idea how long that stuff lasts, and mine had a “sell by” date of February.)
2 cups long-grain rice, rinsed well and drained
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 onion, peeled
2 large tomatoes, cored, halved and seeded
1 quart of chicken stock
salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan with a lid over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the garlic, onion and tomatoes in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth. Add this mixture to the rice and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer until the water is absorbed and the rice tender, about 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork. (Ha ha! Fluff!) Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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3 thoughts on “Round One: Mexico.

  1. Cindy says:

    Why would the recipe call for rinsing the rice? Ordinarily that is only done with rices like basmati. If the recipe uses normal long grain rice, or even short grain brown rice, there should not be moisture on the outside. Then the sauteeing in oil will soften the rice, but protect the grains from each other as they steam. Just a thought…

  2. Beth says:

    Pretty sure it has nothing to do with the rinsing. I always rinse. I think you just are using the wrong water to rice ratio, which does depend on the type of rice you are cooking.

  3. Jenn says:

    I swear I’m not an advertisement, I know Maya…Is that top photo really the rice???

    If you actually want to make rice often and can spring for a gadget, I love, love, love my rice cooker. I rarely made rice before because somehow I always managed to mess it up and it’s just a pain to time on the stove when you’re not supposed to peek under the lid!

    I have an older version of this one http://www.amazon.com/Zojirushi-NS-VGC05-Electric-Cooker-Warmer/dp/B001KVZZH6/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1279485283&sr=8-12

    It’s not cheap, but rice always comes out perfect (no joke, always) and can sit there warm and perfect while you finish making whatever goes with it.

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