There are certain recipes I find to be invaluable in the kitchen; recipes that all chefs at home need to have a GOOD version of. Spanish Rice is one of them. For the longest time I felt like it was one of those dishes you only enjoyed while dining at Mexican restaurants or taco shops. In fact, I used to base what taco shop I went to by how good their rice was. A girl's got to have her standards, right?
Anyway...One day I was in the kitchen with my niece, getting ready to make the latest version of Spanish Rice I had stumbled upon, when she asked me if I would like her to show me how her 'other' grandma makes it. (Her grandmother on her father's side, who is from Mexico.) Well, of course I wanted to know! So she walked me through the ingredients (to the best of her recollection), and the method. And what we ended up with was a dish I had been trying to figure out for years! It was right next to me all along! Simple to make and so delicious! The perfect side dish for Taco Tuesday! Sometimes I make a pot of it just to have a bowl by itself. It's THAT good! Enjoy!
2 Tbs olive oil
2 cups long-grain white rice
1 onion, finely chopped
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 oz can chicken broth (or 2 cups homemade stock if you can)
1 - 2 cups water
2 Tbs tomato paste (Or 1 large tomato, seeded and chopped)
1 -2 tsp salt
In a large, lidded skillet (I use a non-stick skillet that is almost like a wok), brown the uncooked rice with the onion in 2 Tbs olive oil. Just until the onion softens and the rice is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. (Do not brown the onion) Add garlic and cook another minute or two, just until fragrant. Stir in chicken broth/stock and 1 cup of water. Raise heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in tomato or tomato paste, mixing it in well. (Especially if using paste.) Season with 1 tsp of salt. Reduce heat to very low, cover with lid, and simmer for about 15 to 20 minutes. Checking at the about 12 minutes to see if you need a little more water (I usually add more). When rice is tender, remove from heat. Let sit 10 minutes with lid on. Taste to see if you prefer a little more salt. Fluff with fork before serving.
LESLIE'S NOTES: I usually make this rice when I make chicken tacos. Which is also an excellent way to get your chicken stock. I boil a whole chicken in a large stock pot of water for about an hour. Then strain the water and drain it into a large bowl. That way I have homemade stock for dishes like Spanish Rice. It gives it so much flavor. Also, keep in mind that if you use fresh tomatoes, your rice will be lighter in color than if you use tomato paste. But both are just as flavorful!