Friday, October 04, 2013

Mexican-style Brown Rice

 Today is my birthday, so I am offering two things.
Is one of the things an explanation of this weird photograph? No. Suffice it to say: we found that special item in the woods while we were camping, and our friend Jonathan defined the shape a bit with his knife, and it is called the Eegah hand. You have to stick it in your sleeve and stagger around with your arm hanging way long down by the ground, the Eegah hand almost dragging. Also, you have to say, "Eegah," in a groaning way. Did you never see this movie? It is really good.
One is this book recommendation: Alice McDermott’s Child of My Heart. My God. I just finished it, and it was so perfect that I forced myself to relax and savor it, the way I will do with pear Jelly Beans nibbling each one slowly because the flavor is so intense that you don’t need to swallow giant handfuls even though you're tempted to. Plus, since it’s 10 years old, you can probably pull it right off your library’s shelf, instead of adding your name to the bottom of some endless parchment scroll, like you will have to do for her new book, Someone, which is also utterly brilliant and wonderful. Or buy Child of My Heart here from Amazon for $1.58!
The other is my old Mexican Rice recipe, which seems to have been replaced online by someone’s else’s Mexican Rice recipe that has peas and corn and cumin in it. Mine does not. Mine is a little oily, a little salty, a little tomato-sweet. Whenever I make it, which is often, I eat tons and tons of it. Is that a good thing? Not really, I guess. Serve the rice with beans and cheese, or this pork, or roll it all up in tortillas, and everyone will be thrilled.

I am going to move all the recipes over here. In the meantime, look over there on the right! A recipe index of all the recipes that are here on the blog! Thank you for your patience with my Luddititude.

Mexican Rice
Serves 6
Active time: 15 minutes; total time 1 hour +

This is a cross between a Diane Kennedy recipe and a Rick Bayless recipe, and I love that it gets finished in the oven so you don't have to worry about burning it. The brown rice version is a little tricky, in terms of getting the liquid right, as different rices will do different things. If at 45 minutes it is not cooked and already seems dry, stir in another half cup of broth before returning it to the oven.

2 cups canned tomatoes (my favorite thing to use is Hunt's sauce, but plain old diced, crushed, or whole tomatoes work fine too--just don't use a very seasoned sauce or one that is Italianly flecked with oregano or anything; homemade salsa would work great, though)
1/2 an onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)
1 scant tablespoon pickled jalapenos (optional)
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups brown rice (I used short grain)
2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I love Rapunzel veggie bouillon with sea salt and NO herbs)

Heat the oven to 350.

Put the tomatoes, onion, garlic, salt, and optional jalapenos in a blender, puree, and set aside.

Heat the oil over medium heat in an oven-proof pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add the rice and fry, stirring, until the rice gets nice and toasty looking and smelling, around 5 minutes.

Add the tomato mixture to the pot--it will sputter and sear--and cook another 2 or 3 minutes, stirring, until it reduces a bit.

Add the broth to the pot, bring it to a boil, and boil, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.

Put the lid on the pot, pop it into the oven, and leave it there for 45 minutes. Now check on it: there will be a dimpled layer of tomato at the top, but when you fluff the rice with a fork and taste it, it should be just about done. If it is, take it out of the oven and leave it covered for 10 minutes to steam a bit more; if it's not, pop it back in the oven to cook and check it again at 5, 10, or 15 minutes depending on how not-done it was when you checked; when it's done, take it out and leave it covered for 10 minutes.

Fluff the rice with a fork and serve.

White rice variation:
To make this with white rice (I use Uncle Ben's but I can't remember why--maybe just to exaggerate the absence of nutrients?), proceed as directed, but reduce the broth to 1 1/2 cups, and omit the initial five minute boil: simply bring it all to a simmer and stir it, then cover the pot and pop it in the oven. Check it at 25 minutes, at which point it will likely be ready to come out and steam for 10.


  1. Yay yay yay! Thank you so much for taking the time to move recipes. And happy birthday!

  2. Happy birthday!

  3. Hooray for the recipe index!! And happy birthday. AND thanks for the book recommendation...I always love your suggestions.

  4. Anonymous12:00 PM

    I don't think the link to the pork recipe came through?

  5. "to exaggerate the absence of nutrients"
    Ha ha ha! Thanks for that.
    And Happy Birthday to you!!

  6. Cynthia Gingerich1:28 PM

    Happy Birthday from someone who has been reading your blog from the beginning, I guess that's more than 12 years now. I cannot thank you enough for your humor and perspective and profound insights over the years.

    And THANK YOU so much for the recipe index, but you need to move purslane quesadillas down under Lame Dinners. Between pizza toast and air.

  7. Happy Birthday! I hope you have a lovely, sweet, healthy year. But I also hope that some funny and random things happen to you (that are of course not painful or terrible) so that you can share them with us in your naturally hilarious way.


  8. Happy Birthday to you!


  10. Happy birthday, Catherine! I hope you get to enjoy some pear jelly beans today. Yum!

  11. Happy Birthday! Thank you for the recipe index!! I'm tired of having to Google "Catherine Newman pizza toast." You know what's lamer than pizza toast for dinner? Needing the recipe. But there it is.

  12. Anonymous12:39 AM

    Happy birthday, Catherine! Had vinegar eggs today, and sent yet another happy mental thanks your way. Hope you have gloriously wonderful next year and thanks, as always, for everything! Kelda

  13. Heather2:04 AM

    Happy Birthday! I am so thrilled to see this recipe again--feels like it is my birthday too!

  14. Happy birthday! Best wishes for a year filled with delight, and joy, and comfort. (trofmoc & yoj too)
    And I too was delighted to see the recipe index... googling didn't always work so well.

  15. I came here for the first time just now since celiac diagnosis in one of my kids. And ba-bam! Gluten free recipe. Hooray!

    I love your unpretentious blender.

  16. Shannon H.11:23 AM

    Happiest of warm birthday wishes!

  17. First happy (belated) birthday, and second, it's like you gave us gifts with the recipe index AND the games master list. Thanks! Also, I've been looking for a fairly easy Mexican brown rice recipe that tastes authentic and not cardboardy and too salty like the boxed ones, and this looks perfect. I like the Cook's Illustrated one, but it's a bit more complicated, and I have no time for that.

  18. Thank you for the index; all of your fans really really appreciate the labor!

  19. Oh happy belated birthday, Catherine! Thanks so much for the index. I imagine it was a tedious project, but we're so grateful for it. I hope you enjoyed your day!

  20. Happy Birthday, Catherine! I love this rice, and so glad you are putting all your recipes over here, safe. Please don't forget Michael's brownie recipe, which seems to be un-findable now elsewhere -- that one's a gem (good when substituting chocolate chunks for the cherries too). xoxo

  21. The post is absolutely fantastic! Lots of great information and inspiration both of which we all need! Also like to admire the time and effort you put into your blog and detailed information you offer! I will bookmark your blog!
    San Antonio House Buyer

  22. Happy Birthday! and thanks for all the great recipes. I perused the index and made the ginger chocolate cherry cookies for the first time.

  23. I made this last night and I finally have a replacement for those flavored rice mixes from the grocery store (e.g., Knorrs). I've tried several times to find a homemade (and healthier) version than the store-bought mixes that satisifed on the flavor-front, but I failed each time until now!

    Thank you!

  24. And happy belated birthday! (Can't believe I forgot to say that.)

  25. What a great recipe. I can’t wait to try this. Looks delicious.

  26. Happy Birthday dear friend, I like this rice, Mexican recipe and I will try making this recipe today.
    Mexican Food