Years ago when I lived in Oakland, my across-the-street neighbors were the lovely and boisterous Garcia family. Every year, Mrs. Garcia and her daughters would spend hours braising pork and making her famous Christmas Eve tamales with Mexican rice. They would show up on our doorstep that evening, with a plate of these delicacies, the tamales and rice still warm. It didn’t matter if we’d already eaten, we still had to tuck into those gorgeous morsels.
Every year I would ask Mrs. Garcia how she made the rice (forget about the tamales, that was an all-day affair), because I’d never been able to quite get it right. And every year she would say “Oh it’s easy, just puree tomatoes, onions, and garlic and cook the rice in it.” Well, easier said than done without a proper recipe.
Here is a proper recipe. I think I’ve finally got it. This is great if you are serving it as a big spread of Mexican food, whether you are doing a whole Thanksgiving spread, or serving it alongside Christmas tamales, or just as an every day meal with friends.
Toasting the rice ahead of time adds flavor and texture, and helps give the rice a nicely golden color.
Recipe: Mexican-Style Rice
Makes 8–10 servings
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with their juices
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 2 small cloves garlic, chopped
- About 1 1/2 cups turkey stock, low-sodium chicken broth, or water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 bay leaves
- In a blender, puree the tomatoes with juices, onion, and garlic until smooth. Pour into a large glass measuring pitcher. Add enough broth to make 4 cups total. Set aside.
- In a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the rice and cook, stirring often, until the rice becomes golden, about 5 minutes. Pour the tomato mixture over the rice, add the salt and bay leaves and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Let simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the rice to steam for 10 minutes without lifting the lid. Fluff the rice with a fork, then serve.