Arroz rojo...

Happy Cinco de Mayo.  Because it is a Mexican holiday, we are celebrating with taco night.  My kiddos love taco night, but I really think it is because of the rice, not the tacos.  I make this really yummy red rice that is packed with flavor and is super easy and fast to make, it is always a favorite.  I recently took it to a Mexican fiesta party at my son's class and all the kids were happy about the red rice.  I heard about it for days from all the moms.  Let's face it, it isn't easy to please an entire room of 7-year-olds, but I think this rice came close to pleasing everyone.

I think this rice has made me a people pleaser.  I can't decide if that's a good thing...

Arroz Rojo
backyard farmgals

12 ounces Tomatoes, very ripe and cored - or 1 can stewed tomatoes
1 medium white onion
2-3 medium jalapenos
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup canola oil
4 minced garlic cloves
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste (only if using fresh tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 lime
Pico to stir in at the end (as much as you like)

Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350ºF.

Process tomato and onion in processor or blender until pureed and thoroughly smooth. Transfer mixture to measuring cup and reserve exactly 2 cups. Discard any excess.

Remove ribs and seeds from 2 jalapenos and discard. Mince flesh and set aside. Mince remaining jalapeno. Set aside.

Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until water runs clear - about 1 1/2 minutes. Shake rice vigorously to remove excess water. This step removes the starch from the rice so it will not stick. IF YOU OMIT THIS STEP YOUR RICE WILL NOT BE DRY AND FLUFFY.

Heat oil in heavy bottomed ovensafe 12 inch straight sided sautee pan or 10-inch dutch oven with tight fitting lid over low-medium heat about 2 minutes. Drop a few rice grains in and if they sizzle then it is ready. Add rice and fry stirring until rice is light golden and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Be careful that the oil doesn't get too hot too fast or the oil will splatter.

Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and 2 minced jalapenos and cook , stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Stir in broth, pureed mixture, tomato paste, and salt. Increase heat to medium high, and bring to a boil.

Cover pan and transfer pan to oven to bake until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30-35 minutes.  Stir well after 15 minutes.

Stir in cilantro, and pico, minced jalapeno to taste, and pass lime wedges separately.

*If you can't get good fresh tomatoes you are better off using canned tomatoes. Just be sure that the processed tomatoes and the one onion equals 2 cups. One the other hand- if you find that after processing your tomatoes and onions that you have less than 2 cups- simply add enough bottled salsa to make up the difference.


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