If you are searching for a bright festive side dish that can easily be cooked in less than an hour, look no further than Mexican rice and beans. Spanish rice, more commonly known as Mexican rice, is a popular accompaniment to many meals in northern Mexico. One of the reasons this dish has become so popular is the ingredients of this protein-dense dish are simple and budget-friendly. Mexican rice and peas the perfect food for a kid-friendly dinner, lunches during the week, or even potlucks. This savory, slightly spicy side dish has also traveled to other regions all over the world, particularly in the Southwestern United States.
History of Spanish Rice
Even though Spanish rice and Mexican rice names are essentially the same, this recipe does not fall into Spanish cuisine. There seems to be no definitive reason why some individuals call Mexican rice and beans Spanish rice. However, there are a couple of schools of thought on why these names are used interchangeably. Rice is not indigenous to Mexico and was imported in the 1500s during the Spanish invasion's initial stages. Spaniards brought with import cattle, pigs, goats, and chickens along with wheat and rice, which they picked up on one of their voyages to Asia. Because Spain originally imported rice to Mexico, it is understandable why some people would refer to it as Spanish rice. Another hypothesis asserts that Mexicans speaking Spanish ultimately classifies this rice dish as Spanish, thus incorporating the country's language into the name.
What Are the Characteristics of Mexican Rice?
As with any dish, different provinces in Mexico prepare rice in various ways. If you order a side of rice in northern Mexico, you most probably receive traditional Mexican tomato-flavored rice simmered in chicken broth. Yet, in the southern part of Mexico, traditionally, white rice is more popular. However, since broth, tomato, onion, and garlic are the standard way of adding flavor to rice, dubbing the dish Mexican rice alludes to the rice being prepared in a Mexican style. But it is important to note in Mexico, rice is not actually called Spanish or Mexican rice. It is usually called arroz, which translates to rice or arroz rojo, which means red rice.
What Ingredients Are Needed for Mexican Rice And Beans?
The ingredients for Mexican rice and beans are fairly simple. Onions, rice, water or chicken broth, salsa, beans, and cilantro are all you need to make Mexican rice and beans. Although onions add flavor to the dish, choose an onion with a neutral onion, like a white or yellow onion. When selecting rice, choose long-grain brown rice. You can use white long grain rice if you prefer. Simply adjust the cooking time from 45 minutes to 15 to 20 minutes. You can use water, but if you want more flavor, use chicken broth or vegetable broth. The rice absorbs as it cooks, providing a rich flavor. Use your favorite tomato-based salsa instead of sweeter flavored salsa like mango and pineapple or diced tomatoes. As beans are in this dish's name, you can definitely use black beans, or kidney, or pinto beans if you do not like the taste of black beans. No dish is complete without a garnish. Freshly chopped cilantro finishes this dish, but you can use green onions if you don't like the taste of cilantro.
Tips for Making Mexican Rice and Beans
I know what you are thinking. What's the secret to making Mexican rice and beans? With Mexican rice and beans, always remember the results depend on the cooking method. Mexican rice must be browned in oil and before adding the liquids. Browning the rice helps it soak up the broth's flavors while giving it the perfect texture. Add the chopped cilantro after the rice is cooked. If you add while the rice is cooking, the cilantro turns brown and becomes wilted. Adding the cilantro last helps it to retain its bright color and fresh flavor.
How Mexican Rice Is Cooked
Mexican and beans is traditionally made by browning white rice in lard or cooking oil, then onions and garlic are added to provide flavor while the rice is browning. After the rice starts to turn golden brown, chicken broth and a tomato base such as tomato sauce, tomato paste, salsa, or bouillon are added, tomato sauce, paste salsa, and bullion. Although it provides little flavor, you can add parsley for a pop of color. However, cilantro adds a distinct flavor that may replace parsley or added as another herb. Common seasonings include cumin, oregano, cayenne, and chili powder and vegetables like chiles, corn, peas, bell peppers, or carrots may be added too.
Adjusting the Flavor of Your Mexican Rice and Beans
The best thing about Mexican rice and beans is you can effortlessly alter the flavors to suit your needs. While you can add salt and pepper to increase the flavor, why stop there? If you love spicy food, add 1 or 2 diced jalapeño peppers, a dash of cayenne, or a sprinkle of chili flakes. Additionally, you can also use a spicy tomato-based salsa to turn up the heat. If you prefer more of an acidic bite, garnish your Spanish rice with a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Hoping to add a bit more substance to your rice, sauté diced red bell peppers, and minced garlic with the onion. You can also add green olives to the finished rice.
How to Store Mexican Rice and Beans
Leftover Mexican rice and beans is the perfect snack on the go or a side dish during the week. To store Mexican rice and beans, place the leftovers into a sealed container and store it in the refrigerator for 3 days. Ensure the leftover rice is fully cooled before refrigerating it as this will help it to stay fresher longer. To reheat leftover Mexican rice and beans, you can microwave it for 1-2 minutes or place it into a skillet and heat it over medium-low heat until the rice is heated through.Print