Authored by Robert Pfromm in Food and Cooking
Published on 10-02-2010
Although not native to the Americas, since rice was introduced by the Spanish it has become a staple in many of the New World cooking styles. Notable among these is the various ways that Hispanic cultures use rice. Either plain or as part of another dish, rice is ever present in many households. Many believe that without rice, it isn’t a meal.
Plain Boiled Rice
One of the most common ways to serve rice, of course, is plain. A scoop of rice on the plate next to meats, vegetables or beans is a common site in all of Latin America. Simply boil water, a little salt and the rice together until the rice has absorbed the water and is tender.
Although not the definitive or only way that Mexicans cook rice, here is one method:
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and seeded
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
- In food processor or blender, puree onions tomato and garlic.
- In a pan, mix the vegetable puree with all other ingredients except the cilantro. Bring the rice to a simmer, reduce heat to as low as possible and cover the pan. Cook about 20 minutes until the chicken broth is absorbed and the rice is tender. If using frozen peas, stir them in at the last minute just to warm.
- Top with cilantro.
Arroz con Pollo
This one pot chicken dish is traditional Mexican fare.
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup of tomato sauce
- 8 chicken skinless thighs, drumsticks or a combination
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of crushed black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon of saffron (optional)
- 2-1/2 cups of chicken stock
- 1 small, chopped red onion
- 1 large, chopped red bell pepper
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- 3 cloves of minced garlic
- 1 cup of long grain rice
- 1/2 cup of fresh chopped cilantro
- Mix the chicken stock with the saffron and set aside.
- Sprinkle the chicken with the salt and pepper.
- In a large saucepan, bring to the olive oil medium high heat and cook the chicken until lightly browned. Add the red onion, red bell pepper and garlic and cook for 2 or 3 minutes more.
- Add the tomato sauce and chicken stock. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 20 to25 minutes.
- Add the rice. Cover and simmer the rice and chicken for another 25 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Sprinkle in the frozen green peas and cook for an additional five minutes.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.
These are just two traditional Mexican dishes, but each country in Latin America has their own favorites. In Costa Rica, for example, Gallo Pinto (literally, Speckled Rooster) is a traditional black bean and rice dish that can be served at any meal. It is especially common (and especially satisfying) at breakfast. Many Latin American countries have recipes for Arroz con Leche (Rice with Milk – basically Rice Pudding).
Ever since its introduction, the Hispanic culture has been finding flavorful ways to use this new staple in their diet.