Author Notes: I’ll admit it – I judge Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants by the quality of their rice. I grew up on what I think is the best, served up by my Grandma (no bias here), which is present at practically every family meal that comes forth from her kitchen. The technique for cooking it is similar to making a risotto, as the grains of rice are toasted in oil before any liquid is added, which gives the finished rice a nice texture and flavor. Grandma always uses Knorr chicken flavored bouillon cubes, but in the interest of cutting out some of the additives, I’ve adapted this recipe to use a rich chicken stock, adding a bit of toasted tomato paste to boost the savoriness – my best version of a dish that is, for us, a family treasure. —lastnightsdinner
tablespoons rendered lard or bacon fat or vegetable/canola oil
cups yellow or white onion, peeled and diced
cups long grain white rice
garlic cloves, peeled and minced
tablespoon double-concentrated tomato paste
teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
cup tomato puree
cups rich chicken stock, or bouillon dissolved in water
- Warm the fat over medium heat in a wide, lidded saucepan.
- Add the onion, season with a pinch of salt, and cook until softened.
- Add the rice and garlic, stirring to coat the grains with the melted fat, and cook until the garlic is golden and the rice is toasted and beginning to turn translucent.
- Clear a spot in the bottom of the pan and add the tomato paste, allowing it to toast briefly before stirring it through the rice.
- Combine the black pepper, the stock, the tomato puree, and another pinch or two of salt, then add them to the pan, stirring well to incorporate.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and continue cooking until the rice is tender and all liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, fluff with a fork, and let the rice finish in the covered pot for about 10-15 minutes before serving.