At four o’clock today, Eilene told me that her friends were coming over for dinner. She suggested florescent mac and cheese, trying to make it easy on me. I just could not do it. This meal was really almost as easy, and so much better for them.
I have found that the secret to good (meaning restaurant quality) seasoned rice is to cook the rice and sauce separately. If you just dump the dry rice into the sauce to cook, you will almost always end up with sticky, gummy mess. It may end up tasting OK, but the texture will be sorely lacking. By cooking the rice separately and mixing it in at the last minute you get fluffy, firm grains of rice coated in flavorful sauce.
Note: For a Vegan/Vegetarian version of this dish leave out the beef or replace it with TVP.
Karl’s Mexican Rice with Beef
1 cup long grain rice
1 Tbs. olive oil
½ lb. ground beef
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. Ancho chili powder
½ cup green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
½ cup red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1 large beefsteak tomato, coarsely chopped
½ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. Kosher salt
1 can (10 oz.) Rotel Diced Tomatoes & Green Chilies
1 bunch Cilantro (about one cup)
1. Rinse and cook rice with your preferred method.
Tip: I use an Asian rice steamer—set it and forget it.
2. Add the olive oil to a very large skillet or pot , over medium high heat. Brown the beef, breaking it into small chunks. When done, remove the beef to a bowl.
Tip: The skillet/pot must be large enough to contain both the sauce and the rice with enough extra room that you can mix the two together without the contents spilling over the edge. I used a large wok,but every one does not have one of these in their kitchen.
3. Without cleaning the pan, add the onions and sauté until they are starting to pick up some color, about five minutes.
4. Add the celery and continue sautéing for three more minutes, until celery is translucent.
5. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pan and add the garlic and chili powder to the hole in the center of the pan. Sauté the garlic until fragrant, about one minute, and mix in the vegetables.
6. Add the peppers to the pan and continue sautéing for two minutes.
7. Add the fresh tomatoes and cook for two more minutes.
8. Pour in the can of tomatoes and chilies and one quarter cup of water.
9. Simmer stirring for two minutes.
10. Fluff the rice and stir it into the sauce.
11. Just before serving, stir in most of the cilantro.
13. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the remaining cilantro.