Coming from a Japanese background, rice was a daily staple in our house as a child…much as potatoes are to some cultures, or pasta to others. So a spicy, Mexican style rice is right up my alley! What goes better with burritos or enchiladas than a steaming mound of spicy rice?
Here is an easy make-ahead rice dish that will nourish as well as satisfy those spice loving fans. A cup of shredded cheddar cheese enriches it, to insure we all get that daily calcium intake!
I happened to have some chicken schmaltz handy, rendered chicken fat..and a little rendered bacon fat from an organic, applewood smoked bacon…so instead of butter to sweat the diced onions, for extra flavor I’m using a tablespoon of each of these fats. Only heat the garlic until you can smell its aroma, so it doesn’t burn and develop bitter flavors. And add your chili powder during the saute stage, so that the heat can bloom those spice flavors. You will notice that I’m throwing the rice kernels in the fat, onions and spices to coat each kernel in fat and heat them briefly before adding the liquid.
Cheesy Mexican Style Rice
- 2 tablespoon fat, unsalted butter, oil, chicken schmaltz or bacon fat
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon diced garlic
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 can Rotel tomatoes or 14 oz jar of favorite salsa
- 2 cups water or chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or pepper monterey jack
In a 4 qt saucepan, melt the fat and sweat the onions for 3-4 minutes.
Add the spices so that the heat will release their oils. Add the garlic and stir only until you can smell it’s aroma. Toss in the rice and stir for 3 minutes, coating the kernels.
Add the salsa and liquid.
Bring to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down to a low simmer for 20 minutes.
If you are serving it immediately, stir in the cheese so it melts and serve hot.
If you wish to make it ahead, after the rice has cooked for 20 minutes: Remove the cover, and fluff rice with a fork.
Allow to cool to room temperature. Then stir in the cheese. Pour into a buttered casserole dish, sprinkle a little cheese on top, cover and refrigerate until 1/2 hour before serving.
Heat rice in a 350 degree oven for 1/2 hour until cheese melts and top is bubbling.