Baked Mexican Rice
My parent’s 25th anniversary is coming up next week and I can’t really say much because they read my blog- the wonderful, supportive parents they are! I can say that I’m sorry I couldn’t send you two on a trip to England-I’m aiming for maybe the 35th so don’t get too mad at one another and get divorced. There’s incentive to stick together. Just kidding, I know you will make it and now you have, in writing, a promise of a trip on your 35th (what have I done).
I had some problems figuring out what to get them and seriously thought about mailing a cake but that sounded very difficult and messy, very messy. Plus, for any regular readers, you know my problems with the postal service and other delivery services in this area. Read here and here for a few examples of my ongoing battle against incompetence. (Not to be mistaken for incontinence…but one day when I laugh…) If they bend a photo that has a giant DO NOT BEND sticker on the package, what would they do to a cake?
Any ideas? I got a little something but it doesn’t compare to what I wish we could do. I know it’s the silver anniversary but I’m not hokey so any other suggestions will be seriously considered.
Let’s think about rice for a minute. I love its versatility and ability to mingle well with pretty much anything. It’s pretty charming and this recipe keeps that reputation going strong: baked Mexican rice from Emeril Lagasse. Does anyone else want to say it as Ragasse? You can add chorizo, smoked sausage, shrimp, baked chicken, beans on the side (refried, black or pinto perhaps), crumble cheese over the top (cotija, melted cheddar, queso, etc.) and you’re good to go.
Emeril also created ‘essences’ made from several (sometimes quite a few) spices and herbs. I was never really a fan of them in the past because of so many ingredients but after trying the ‘southwest essence,’ I am a convert. The recipe made quite a bit more than required so I put the seasoning in some baked eggs, soup and mac and cheese. Greg ended up asking me to make more to season a few other meals since it was so tasty. The combination is wonderful and I can’t believe I doubted these essences before.
I changed the recipe by not including many of the vegetables (mostly because I didn’t have them) but if you want to make the full veg version, here’s the link.
Baked Mexican Rice
Serves 8 to 10
1/3 cup olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onions
1/3 cup chopped seeded jalapenos (about 2 extra-large jalapenos)
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
2 1/2 cups canned chicken broth or 2 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tsp salt, or to taste, depending on the saltiness of the broth
2 tsp Emeril’s Southwest essence (see below for recipe)
2 pinches saffron-optional
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro-optional
top with cheese of your choice-I used cheddar
Southwest Essence Seasoning: makes ½ cup
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp dried oregano
Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.
Preheat the oven to 350. Heat the olive oil in a large oven safe saucepan or Dutch oven with lid over medium heat. Add the onions and jalapenos, stirring until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the broth, salt, Southwest essence, and saffron (optional). Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Bake until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and stir in the cilantro, if desired. Add the cheese (optional). Serve warm.