Monday, December 31, 2012

Mexican Rice

When I set out to make a recipe, I try to make it restaurant quality. I strive to make something you would pay to eat. To coin a phrase from Guy Fieri, "This Mexican Rice is money!" It is better than what you would find at your local Mexican eatery.

I start by browning vermicelli in a little olive oil. You may have the urge to brown the vermicelli in butter, DON'T DO IT! Stick with olive oil, butter can burn! If you don't have vermicelli, well go out and buy some! Just kidding. You can substitute spaghetti. Just break it into small pieces. Make sure you keep an eye on this. The vermicelli can burn quickly! If that happens you will need to start over. So there, I warned you.
Next, stir in the rice. Let the rice get coated in the olive oil for a minute or so.
* I am picky about which rice I use for this recipe. Stick with Uncle Ben's long grain converted rice. I don't care what anyone else tells you, Uncle Ben's is where it's at in this recipe. I use other types of rice for various dishes, but not in this recipe.
Next up are the flavor boosters. I stir in butter, butter flakes and chicken bouillon cubes. All great Mexican Rice recipes have chicken bouillon.The brand of chicken bouillon I prefer is Tone's. It has more flavor than any other out there. Back to butter flakes for a second. What are they, you ask? Imitation butter, found in the spice aisle. It is one of my favorite ingredients. It helps me to cut down on the amount of butter used in any given dish, while satisfying the palate for a buttery taste. Brands I use are Molly McButter and Butter Buds.
Besides chicken bouillon, tomato is the next important seasoning for Mexican Rice. Here I take a great tasting shortcut and use Pace Picante Sauce. It has the tomato base, with vegetables blended in, making it perfect for this dish.
Everything is brought to a boil.
Covered with a tight fitting lid.
And the heat reduced to medium low.
Simmer for 20 minutes. It is important not to stir the rice after you've put the lid on. The rice will turn sticky! To check for doneness, tilt the pan toward you, and hold several seconds. If there is no water pooling, it is done. If there is water, cover and continue cooking, checking every few minutes.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ Cup vermicelli, broken
1 Cup Uncle Ben’s converted rice
3 Tone’s chicken bouillon cubes, crushed
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons Molly McButter, butter sprinkles
1 ½ Cups water
½ Cup Pace picante sauce

You will need a medium sized sauce pan with a tight fitting lid to cook the rice. To begin: heat oil in the sauce pan. Add vermicelli and brown, keeping a close eye, as not to burn! Add rice, coating with the olive oil and vermicelli. Let cook for 1 minute. Stir in bouillon cubes, butter and butter sprinkles. Add water and picante sauce; stirring to combine. Bring rice to a boil. Once the rice has started a rapid boil, cover with a tight fitting lid. Reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 20 minutes. Do not stir during the cooking process. The rice will turn sticky. Rice is done when pan tilted towards you yields no water. If water forms, continue cooking, checking every few minutes.


Sunday, December 30, 2012


Chile Verde Base
Mexican Rice
Pork Chile Verde
Pork Chile Verde Burrito
Refried Beans

Refried Beans

For as much as I love Mexican food, I never got around to making refried beans. It was on my "to make" list, but always got pushed aside for something else. Well this month it all changed! I met a lady, who at one time owned 5 Mexican restaurants. She said the secret to frying the beans is to use lard and sprinkle with flour. I took note of that and set out on making refried beans. Including tonight's batch, I've cooked up 5 pounds of pinto beans in the past 20 days! I think I've got this down!

Start by sorting out the rocks and debris from the dried beans. I like to work on a light colored surface, so I can see clearly. Then scoop the beans into a container.

This is what I found in a 1 pound batch of pinto beans out of the bulk bin. I won't be buying my beans from the bulk bin again! It may be a good idea to sort through your beans 2 or 3 times.

Rinse the beans, then put in a crock pot with 6 cups of water. You can soak your beans overnight, but I don't. I didn't want to bother with the extra step.

Cover the crock pot and cook on high for 6 hours, stirring occasionally.

The beans are done when they form a thick sauce and are easy to mash.

Stir in the spices. I keep it simple, using salt, pepper and granulated garlic.

Once the spices are in, mash the beans. You don't have to get them creamy, like mashed potatoes. Just a simple mash will do. If you are eating healthy, you can stop now and not fry your beans. They will be just fine. But since we are making Refried Beans I find it appropriate to fry them!

(A side note here. I really am not much of a teflon fan. The exception is my crock pots, which I use all the time. They are pricey at around $50. That being the case, I take care not to scratch them. I highly recommend Pampered Chef teflon masher, and scrapers.)

I fry a small batch at a time. Just what we are going to eat. There really is no measuring at this point. Just add a tablespoon, or two, of lard into a pan. If your pan is small, use 1 tablespoon. If the pan is large use 2 tablespoons. Heat the lard over medium high heat.

Spoon the beans, in an even layer. Sprinkle with a tablespoon, or two, of all purpose flour. Same measurement as above. Small pan, 1 tablespoon. Large pan, 2 tablespoons.

Flip sections of the floured beans over, to cook on the other side. You are gently folding the flour into the beans. Keep in mind, we are frying, not making pudding. Just keep things undisturbed as much as possible.

Sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Let the cheese melt, as you turn off the heat and cover the pan.

This is what you end up with. Delicious, smooth, refried beans that taste just as good as what you would get in your favorite Mexican restaurant. Oh who am I kidding? They're better!



1 Pound dried pinto beans
6 Cups water
1 1/2 Teaspoons salt
1 Teaspoon pepper
1 Teaspoon granulated garlic
Sort beans, removing any rocks and dirt. Rinse well. Place beans and water in a crock pot. Set the crock pot on high heat. Cover. Let beans cook until a thick sauce forms and beans can be mashed easily; about 6 hours. Stir in salt, pepper and garlic. Serve as is, or fry.
Mash beans, adding a little water if necessary, so they are smooth. Heat a frying pan to medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon lard. Spoon in beans, in an even layer. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flour. Cook until beans are heated through; folding in flour as the beans cook. Cover with shredded cheese, if desired. Turn off heat and cover with a lid.