Rescuing "Mexican rice"

I made the Mexican rice recipe that was in the NYT recently (http://www.nytimes.com... - basically you toast long-grain rice in some oil, then dump in a gazpacho-like veggie purée and simmer for 17 minutes, then let sit for 10 minutes) and it came out AWFUL - the rice was still crunchy and seemed undercooked, so I added some hot water and cooked another ten minutes. Still inedible, so I gave up and stuck it in the fridge. If it was regular rice, I'd toss it, but given the amount of veggies I used up making it I'd appreciate tips on how to rescue it: Reheat with more liquid? Turn it into rice cakes? Use it to stuff something? Do any experienced Mexican Rice makers spot anything in the recipe I could tweak if I wanted to try again? Thanks for your help!

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Liza's Kitchen NYC
Liza's Kitchen NYC July 29, 2014

It sounds like your rice is either underdone or overdone, possibly from a lack of liquid or for the latter toasting it too much. If you feel like it's underdone, you can try rescue it by adding water again (as you did already) and simmer it on a low flame for another 25 minutes. If it's overdone and hard, you might need to toss it as once rice is overdone there isn't much you can do to salvage it. If it were mushy, you would have more options (such as making it into a mexican style soup).

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HalfPint
HalfPint July 29, 2014

I suspect that it might be the rice. Is the rice old? Rice can get old and when it's cooked, it will either taste terrible (stale) and the texture can be hard like it is undercooked & mealy. Might want to add a lot of water, about 2-3 times the volume and make a soup out of it.

The recipe might be a tad low on the amount of water used, but you added extra water and it was still inedible, so I'm going with the rice as the culprit.

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Susan W
Susan W July 29, 2014

I agree with halfpint. I made Diana Kennedy blanco rice the other day. I've been making it for years and love it. I was a little suspicious of the rice because I found it at the back of my pantry. It was horrid. Sort of tasted old and musty. Into the garbage it went.

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Voted the Best Reply!

dinner at ten
dinner at ten July 29, 2014

The acidity from the tomatoes and the high concentration of vegetable pulp in the cooking liquid would slow the rate at which rice cooks, and I suspect the cooking time (and also possibly the volume of water) suggested by the author wasn't accurate. I've had similar problems making versions of a Mexican green rice in which the cooking liquid is very thick with pureed vegetables. If you keep adding water and cook a lot longer, it will eventually cook, but will never be great (the rest of it will be mushy when the crunchy bits are tender). In future tries, I would try using a LOT less tomatoes, and more water. I think it's also very important to use a heavy pot with a tightly closing lid, to help the rice cook evenly when the liquid level is low and the heat is off.

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Susan W
Susan W July 29, 2014

I just looked at Diana Kennedy's similar recipe. For 1.5 cups of rice, she uses 1 large tomato, 1/3 medium onion and a garlic clove all blended. She toasts the rice like yours does, pours in the blended veggies and 3.5 cups chicken stock or water. Huge difference from your recipe. You let it bubble away uncovered until craters form, so that part may explain the difference, but 1/2 cup is such a small amount. She also has you soak the rice in hot water for 25 minutes, so that is more moisture absorbed. It is the best Mexican rice recipe I have ever had. That and the blanco rice I mentioned above are my favorites.

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Meaghan F
Meaghan F July 29, 2014

You're right - HUGE difference!! The rice is new so I know that's not the problem. I'll try reheating and hope that it's undercooked and not overcooked. Thanks everyone who posted though!! Lots of lessons learned for next time.

Sam1148
Sam1148 July 29, 2014

Throw a small can of V8 in it and a pinch of cumin and steam it up again.

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