I almost called this post "Mexican Rice. FINALLY!" because it is a recipe that took me forever to get right. For years (no joke) I tried recipes I found in books and online, and I even tried coming up with my own recipe, but there was always something wrong with the finished rice: it was smooshy, or not cooked enough, or not enough flavor...you get the idea.
I was finally saved by a recipe in an issue of Cook's Country, not by the ingredient list, but by part of the process. I tried the recipe as it was written (hoping that maybe it would be the one) and had some of the same problems as always: the rice wasn't cooked all the way through and I thought the flavor was kind of bland. But part of the process was a total "Ah-hah!" moment for me. The recipe called for a can of tomatoes, processed in the food processor until smooth, to be used as part of the liquid. Genius! So I took my latest version of my recipe (from over a year ago, since I'd all but given up on ever developing a good recipe) and adapted it to use the pureed tomatoes. It took me several tries, but I finally have an amazing, rice-cooked-all-the-way, loaded-with-flavor, perfect-as-a-side-dish Mexican rice.
Now, about soaking the rice. Remember how I tried to find a way to get regular white rice to cook right without having to soak it first, and I finally gave in because it was the only way to get consistent, amazing results? Click here if you forgot about all that craziness. I know it's a pain, but it really is the only way my rice turns out.
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles (in tomato puree)
1 small onion, diced
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
1. Put the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse until the water runs clear. Put the rice in a medium pot, cover with cold water by one inch, and soak for 20 minutes. Drain the rice well using the strainer and return to the pot.
2. Put the canned tomatoes in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and process until smooth. Add the tomato puree, onion, chicken broth, cumin, oregano, and salt to the rice.
3. Bring the rice mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to low, cover, and simmer 25-30 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and let sit 5-10 minutes. Fluff gently with chopsticks (my favorite rice tool) or two forks, and gently stir in cilantro.
Makes about 4 cups rice.