Thursday, September 07, 2006

Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice is my very favorite food in the world. I usually play around with it and never measure when I cook it (because it was one of the first things I ever learned to cook and I've been making it so long now). My family jokes that each time we sit down to eat Mexican, my rice is a surprise - you never know what changes I've made to it "THIS TIME". There have been some times I have made it too hot, some times too mild, but it ALWAYS gets eaten. If not at dinner, the next day out of the refrigerator! I absolutely love it. I used to always try to make my grandma's version (Jessie's Spanish Rice)... but I have yet to copy it exactly (although it was wonderful and the reason I fell in love with it so long ago)! Maybe I'll share HER recipe some time in here also. I still keep her hand-written recipe she gave me when I was in my 20's in my recipe binder. Everyone loved her Spanish Rice.

Let me tell you what I don't like in Spanish Rice, and we'll start from there:

1. lots of tomato paste - GROSS!
2. most boxed Spanish Rice mixes (not good for you, and usually not the flavor I'm looking for)
3. bland rice (sorry, I like some spice)
4. too hot to eat (I have made this mistake a few times, and it is better to go a little light and add your spice at the table than end up with a pot of tongue-melting rice that no-one can eat... what a WASTE!)

Next, I'll tell you my recipe, and then we'll discuss some additional variations/ingredients you might try. Remember that my Spanish rice is always morphing and changing... but this is the recipe for last night's batch, and I FORCED myself to measure it for you! You are so lucky that I'm sharing this! You should feel so special!

Sprittibee's 2006 Spanish Rice Recipe

  • 1.5 cups rice (or a touch less... last night I used par-boiled because it was on hand)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 5-6 twists of black pepper grinder
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (my grandma always said this was the key ingredient)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/8 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/4 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika (or you could use hot Hungarian paprika)
  • 1 tsp Knorr Caldo de Tomate (Tomato Bouillon)
  • 1/4-1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh tomato
  • pinch saffron
  • dash Mexican oregano
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • large frying pan with high sides and a tight-fitting lid

Note to chef: It is best to start your recipe with hot oil and your veggies already cut up. I like to go ahead and prepare my water also, so that you can prevent any loss of time when you need to add it and keep the rice from burning. This recipe, despite it's long list of ingredients, moves rather quickly! If you gather all of these spices and a few sets of measuring spoons on the counter near the pan, you can throw them in quickly and save yourself from allowing the rice to get too browned (or burnt).


Heat oil in pan. Add rice, pepper, onion, and garlic powder. Stir rice to coat and fry on medium-high, keeping the rice moving so it will brown evenly. As you are stirring, start adding spices (cumin, coriander, cayenne, salt, garlic salt, paprika, chili powder). When rice is browned a bit (some of it may not be browned - it is hard to get it totally even in color) and before it starts to burn, add your water. Stir well. Add tomato bouillon and tomato. Add your pinch of saffron and turn heat up to high. Add your dash of oregano (very small amount) and ketchup. Allow rice to come to a rolling boil while stirring (won't take long). Turn heat to low and place lid on pan to seal. Cook for around 20 minutes (see note below)...

Note to chef: Depending on your stove and the type of rice you use, you may need to add additional water and/or turn up the heat some. You may also need to stir it once in-between sealing the pot and it being completely done. Par-boiled rice takes less time to cook (about 15 minutes), while longer grains like basmati takes up to 35 or 40 minutes to cook. Adjust your cooking time depending on your rice and stove and watch it closely for the first few times you make it.


I have been doing different things to my Spanish Rice since I've been cooking. It is hard to really mess it up unless you accidentally burn it or add too much spice that is HOT. Other ingredients I have used in the past include:

  • 1/2 to a full chopped jalapeno pepper
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • spoonful of your favorite hot sauce
  • handful of kernel corn
  • handful of chopped fresh red bell pepper (fried along with onions & rice in the beginning stages of the dish to soften it) OR spoonful of red pemintos from a jar (added at the end)
  • fresh garlic
  • bit of shredded carrot
  • handful of fresh chopped cilantro leaves sprinkled on top before serving (mmm!)
  • ... my favorite addition is vermicelli (similar to the long pasta "grains" in Rice-a-Roni, and you only add about a fourth cup per 2 cups rice)

Warning: The tomato bouillon has MSG and other things bad for you. I was told to use it by a Spanish woman in Houston, Texas who cooked for many people and sold her rice at a food stand. After trying it, I have had a hard time giving it up... so I figure a little bad won't kill me, right? I eat healthy for the most part.

Please drop a note in my comments section if you try my rice and let me know what you think!

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