For those of you who don’t know me and my family personally, my husband is Mexican American, and as a result, Mexican cooking is a staple in our household. We first met way back in 2008 and there were a few recipes he didn’t waste any time teaching me, especially since they were essential to gatherings with his family… the truth is I would have to cook them in bulk for many family parties to come, ha ha! His family’s Spanish Rice recipe was one of them, and to this day I can tell you our refrigerator is never without it.
A little background on his family… his grandmother is from Michoacán, Mexico, and immigrated here in the 1960’s. His mother was born in Mexico as well, but all her kids (hubs included) were born here in the United States. An interesting thing I have learned since we met, is that many Mexican recipes have adapted over the years, now with a large distinction between recipes from Mexicans in Mexico, and Mexican Americans living in the United States. He has a cousin who lives in Guadalajara who will come visit, and he has told us many times that our Mexican cooking is nothing like Mexican cooking where he is from, though he tells us it is good (lol). We also now have an Au Pair living with us who is from Monterey, and she has told us also, that our Mexican cooking is often times not authentic to how it would be done in Mexico. For example, did you know that Enchiladas are supposed to be spicy? Enchilada is the past participle of Spanish enchilar, “to add chili pepper to”; literally, “to season (or decorate) with chili” – in her hometown, an enchilada is often a corn tortilla with cheese and a spicy chili sauce. In other areas, they will add meat, but it is 100% a spicy food! How many spicy enchiladas have you had in the United States?
I am sure you are asking yourself the reason for my major digression from the recipe (I know everyone hates this on recipe posts). I am simply making a disclaimer that this is how I was taught to make Spanish Rice by my Mexican American husband, who was taught by his mom who was raised here in the United States, whose her Mexican mother from Michoacán taught her. I had a really good discussion with another foodie blogger the other day about how so many recipes are posted with disregard for their origin and/or authenticity. Take a moment and head to Google and type in “enchilada recipe” an I guarantee you will come up with hundreds of posts by white chicks who have no idea what an authentic enchilada is. I am not shaming them, but I am however going to make sure that I am not yet another white chick online, telling you something is authentic when I don’t know if it is, or claiming to be the key holder to an authentic recipe that has nothing to do with my heritage. Food is a huge part of culture, and I want to make sure I honor it correctly!
Okay, on to the good stuff! What I do know is that this recipe is authentic to his Mexican-American family, and we make it and enjoy it ALL THE TIME! This is something we make LITERALLY for every single family gathering… Thanksgiving and Christmas included! This is a larger family-style recipe, and we will make it with intent to keep leftovers in our refrigerator for the week, so we can heat up a little to have with whatever we are serving for lunch or dinner. I hope you enjoy!
- 2 cups white, long-grain rice
- 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 8oz can tomato sauce (you can use an 8oz can of El Pato sauce if you want it to be spicy… I linked some above in case you don’t know what I’m referring to)
- 1/2 onion, finely diced
- 1 firm tomato diced (don’t include any super wet/mushy parts or your rice will turn mushy too!)
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper (more to taste if desired)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste if desired)
In a saucepan (whatever one you normally make your rice in) add your rice and oil on medium-high heat. Cook for several minutes while stirring, until your grains of rice start to turn a solid white instead of translucent. It is important that you don’t let the rice burn and turn brown, but you do want about 1/2 of your rice to turn the solid white color. Add your onions and continue to cook and stir for an additional few minutes, until the onions begin to sweat and release their flavor.
On the same medium-high heat, add your water, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and seasoning. Give a brief stir, simply to combine all ingredients. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then bring your burner down to a low heat. DO NOT STIR after this point.
Cover and cook until all the water has evaporated, just as you would with a plain white rice.
*IMPORTANT* Since Spanish Rice has the addition of the vegetables and tomato sauce, it has a tendency to turn out mushy… there are several techniques you can use to keep this from happening, but you have to be mindful as you go.
First, you simply want to be sure your rice is cooked all the way, but you want to do so without stirring. If you stir your rice before it is ready, you are guaranteed to turn out mushy! To check your rice, you can take a fork and slide it between the side of your pan and the edge of the rice, and see if below the top layer of tomato the rice appears to be done. If it appears nice and dry and at the desired consistency, you are there! If not, allow it to keep cooking.
If you keep cooking and feel that your rice is still mushy (or if you just want to be extra sure it isn’t), simply remove your lid and allow the rice to cook an additional 5-10 minutes on the same low heat. If you keep the heat low and you keep cooking, the worst thing that will happen is that you may have a thin layer of slightly burnt rice, only on the very bottom of the pan where the grains are touching the heat directly. Depending on who you ask, this can actually be a good thing – my husband has told me that he and his siblings all thought that ‘burnt rice’ layer is the best and they would fight over who got bites of it as kids. I have found that if you us the El Pato to make the rice spicy, that burnt layer is extra delicious as a snack with sour cream : )
Well, there you have it! Thank you to my hubby for sharing this with me, and allowing me to share it with you. I hope that not only the recipe is delicious, but that the technique tips help you to make it just right. I know a lot of people have been asking for this recipe, so you all have to let me know how your first try turns out! Also, I do plan to blog a few recipes we use this as a side dish with to give you some full-meal recipe ideas too.
As always, I appreciate you reading!
X.O. – Abbey Co.
*Disclaimer* I am an Amazon affiliate and get a tiny kickback if you purchase anything from my links… I only share things that I use and love, and it is just a small avenue for me to earn money to support my blog as I go.This link includes my All Clad cookware set. Stainless Steel is the way to go, and we have been so happy to have made the switch! Click image for details.