Saturday, June 21, 2008

Los Tios Mexican Rice

I tried my first chile pepper when I was in the 5th or 6th grade. I was hanging out with my cousin Tim at his house, and we were out in the garden, where my uncle Don had a row of jalapeno pepper plants. Uncle Don loved spicy foods long before it became vogue in the culinary world. I think, his Hispanic coworkers at the railroad introduced him to many of these foods. Anyway, Tim dared me to eat a pepper. Thinking that this was just a smaller version of the familiar bell pepper, I bit into it. Well, you know the rest of the story.

When it came to chile peppers, I've always been a bit gun shy. If you've been a regular reader of this blog, you know that I've been trying to incorporate them more into my cooking. Today's dish is a success and has the presence of John Wayne or Clint Eastwood. I found the recipe in The Tex-Mex Cookbook by Robb Walsh. Not only does this book deliver some great recipes, but it captures the history of Tex-Mex cooking in vintage photographs and Mr. Walsh's great writing.

You'll find this rice dish served at Los Tios Restaurant in Houston. Serrano peppers pack more heat than jalapenos, but don't let this scare you. You'll find that the sweetness of the minced carrots plays off of the heat of the serrano peppers. It's a little more complex than your typical Mexican Rice.

The original recipe called for 2 cups of chicken broth. Now when I first made this dish, I felt that the rice was a bit too much and sticky, so the second time I prepared the dish I decreased the broth to 1 1/2 cups. It was better, but I still think the amount of broth could be decreased. When I find the perfect ratio of liquid to rice, I'll post on the blog.

(Los Tios Mexican Rice with the star of the dish, a serrano pepper)

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tomato, coarsely chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup raw white rice
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 1/2 cup minced carrots
  • pinch of ground cumin
  • pinch of black pepper
  • salt to season

  1. Puree broth, tomato, and garlic in a blender.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the onion and saute for five minutes until soft.
  4. Add rice and saute until it turns opaque.
  5. Add puree, chilies, carrots, cumin, pepper, and salt.
  6. Bring the rice to a boil. Reduce heat, cover tightly, and simmer for 25-30 minutes. Do no remove the lid during simmer.
  7. After turning off heat, let stand for five minutes and then fluff with fork.

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