Sunday, September 10, 2017

Spanish Rice

Spanish Rice - a side dish made with bacon, rice, tomatoes, the Trinity of veggies and a few simple seasonings.
Spanish Rice - a side dish made with bacon, rice, tomatoes, the Trinity of veggies and a few simple seasonings.

Spanish Rice

With some variations in cooking method - stovetop, oven or a combination of both - and ingredients - tomatoes versus sauces, pastes or purees - that, which is defined as Spanish Rice across much of the country, is quite similar to Red Rice from the Lowcountry and the base of our beloved Creole Jambalaya of the Deep South.

What brings them together in common are rice, tomatoes and often what we call the Trinity of Cooking in the Deep South - onion, bell pepper and celery. I make them all pretty much the same really, although Spanish rice to me is a more abbreviated, milder side dish version, where the other two are typically more big batch and spicier main dish recipes, that usually include protein of some sort, chicken, seafood or chunks of smoked sausage or ham.

I think, and I may be wrong, that Spanish Rice is more retro, as it seems the younger cooks of today, refer to it as Mexican Rice. To me, though similar, I see Mexican Rice as a bit more enhanced, with additional flavors from things like chilies and cumin. A bit more fiery if you will!

We tend to eat a lot of rice in the Deep South, far more I think than mashed potatoes, so there's very likely to be some leftover and you can bet we use it up! Not only can it be simply re-hydrated in the microwave with a little splash of water for a side dish, it can also be used in casseroles, for dirty rice, in fried rice, and for dishes like this.

Since I am making this with leftover rice today, I suppose it's a little less "authentic" than the real deal, since Spanish rice, and even it's counterpart, Mexican rice, generally start with uncooked, well rinsed and skillet-toasted raw rice. I had leftover rice to use up, so I wrote my recipe that way. Very simple. Cook some bacon, saute veggies, add tomatoes and seasonings, stir in cooked rice, done!

I haven't tested this out using raw rice yet, but I'll try to remember to update the recipe when I do. If you want to go that route in the meantime, here's my suggestion. Saute about a cup of raw rice in the bacon drippings and butter with the veggies. Add 2 cups of chicken broth or water, tomatoes and seasonings, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let cook for about 20 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. That ought to get you there.

Spanish Rice, a perfect side dish for many entrees, especially those already spicy Tex-Mex style main dish recipes. Hope you enjoy it, and be sure to check out the additional seasonings in the Mexican Rice variation in the recipe notes too.

For more of my favorite rice recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

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Recipe: Spanish Rice

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 20 min

Total time: 30 min
Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 3 slices bacon
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet bell pepper (red, yellow, orange and/or green) or jalapeno
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (like Rotel), undrained
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Creole or Cajun seasoning, optional
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked rice

Cook bacon to crisp over medium heat; remove and set aside, crumbling when cool. Add butter to pan drippings and saute onion, bell pepper and celery in butter until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add tomatoes, chicken broth, salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning and paprika; bring to a boil, reduce to low and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and half of the cooked bacon and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed; garnish with remaining bacon.

Cook's Notes: For extra flavor, toast rice before cooking and adding to recipe. Be mindful of additional salt if using already seasoned cooked rice. Though not traditional, add in 1/2 cup of a thawed, frozen pea and carrot blend.

For Mexican Rice: Brown rice in 1/2 tablespoon oil then proceed with recipe. Add 1 tablespoon chopped pickled jalapeno with the bell peppers, 1 teaspoon cumin and 2 teaspoons chili powder, substitute salsa for the tomatoes, and stir in 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro with the rice.

For Curried Rice: Add 1/2 teaspoon curry powder to base recipe.

Beefy Rice: Brown 1/2 pound of ground beef; drain and set aside, returning to the pan with the tomatoes and seasonings.


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Check These Other Rice Recipes Out Too Y’all!

Crawfish Rice Dressing
Cajun Dirty Rice
Pork and Egg Fried Rice
Posted by on September 10, 2017

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  1. This looks like such a yummy recipe!

    My heart is hurting for all of the people who are dealing with Hurricane Harvey's aftermath and Hurricane Irma. I live in North Carolina, so although we don't usually get "hit hard" like some states, I have lived through my fair share of hurricanes. The whole experience of not knowing if it's coming or not (for a short while, we thought Irma might head our way) and then, if it does come, realizing that you have prepared as much as you could but that it might not be enough...well, it leaves you feeling very...powerless. The devastation that these storms can cause is just unimaginable.

    1. Boy don't I know what you mean Linda! No matter where it goes we all stress over it and even when it goes somewhere else, we sympathize easily with the losses and we sort of relive the ones we've been through in the past don't we? The loss of life in the Caribbean is just terrible, but I think that Florida really prepared well for it and hopefully that saved some lives.

  2. Like I've done several times before I can't wait to make one of your recipes right when I open your email! So that's what I just did! This Spanish rice was wonderful! The only thing I did different was to saute some shrimp with the vegetables. It made a wonderful one dish meal served with some crusty bread for our lunch! Looking forward to your next recipe!

  3. Mary, praying you are doing well there, and are safe. Guess if you live anywhere near a Southern coast, you share the heartache, then worry over the next big one. Have noticed we never seem to think of the property losses afterwards.(we lost our home south of Topsail Beach in Hurricane Fran.) We thank God in Heaven above our loved ones are safe and pray for the families of those who are not. Then clean up...again. Saw you writing about your worry over Irma, and thought, "heck girl, you're fine, it's heading straight for Raleigh!" Then it turned. Then turned slightly back. Irma's dregs are supposed to hit tonight. Someone up above loves us and sent us a COLD SNAP. (smiles) On TV tonight they said our power companies have sent the crews they thought they'd need here down south to help there. Everyone pitches in, right?

  4. Darn - got side tracked. Mary, love your ideas for cooking breakfast meats ahead = brilliant! great way to speed up making breakfast and dishes like this. Of course we keep the bacon grease, right? so this dish is easy. But what about the sausage dishes that use those drippings? And can that fat be saved and frozen too? Can't think why not. 2nd ? - when making ahead for a dish like this, do you throw in the frozen bacon or sausage? or do you thaw it first? Never remember to thaw ahead, and never tried pre-cooking breakfast meat so not sure how to proceed, just love the idea.


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