Thursday, June 21, 2012

Grace's Mexican Rice

I have been meaning to publish this recipe for a long time.  For those of you that already have it, I have made some improvements that I hope you will like.

Grace's Mexican Rice

1 lb ground beef
1 lrg onion, diced
2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 tsp each chili powder, cumin, and dried oregano
1 tsp cumin seed
3 tsp salt
1 1/2 c rice
4 c water

Brown the ground beef and onion together.  Add the other ingredients and stir to combine.  Bring to a boil and stir once more to make sure the rice isn't clumping on the bottom of the pot.  (I recommend wearing an apron for this step.  I can't tell you how many times the tomato sauce has jumped out of the pot to get me.)  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 30 minutes, stirring half way through.

Serve with:

sour cream (or ranch dressing)

When I first started making this, Emily suggested to me that I add more water and extra spices--very good advice.  But, I always hated buying the minute rice for this.  First, I don't actually like minute rice, and second, I had a perfectly good sack of rice already in my kitchen.  I started experimenting with regular rice, but, I usually ended up with it being slightly crunchy.  Then I was reading a recipe in America's Test Kitchen where they were cooking rice with other ingredients, and they said to put in more water and cook for a longer time.  So, I tried it with the Mexican Rice and, lo and behold, the rice was perfectly cooked and the meat-rice mix was moist, even a little juicy.  Yummy!

Since first writing this post Dad Abbott has given some more information about the recipe and its origins.  Here it is:

About "Mexican Rice." Judy has often quipped that she married me so my mother would share her secret recipe for Mexican Rice. Here's the background.

After the war and delayed schooling, like so many others couples, my parents struggled financially. Mexican Rice was an unusual dish suitable for entertaining that didn't cost an arm and a leg and was always a big hit. One night guests commented that they had just eaten the same "Mexican Rice" a night or so earlier at a friends, someone my mother had given the recipe.

That was disappointing, so my mother made "Mexican Rice" a family secret. I recall on more than one occasion women saying they had tried to duplicate it, but they could never get it right. This was the early, early 1950's before Mexican cooking was common among Anglos. Our friends didn't recognize the taste of cumin in the meat & rice base.

I hope everyone in our family who likes Mexican Rice has an authentic recipe. It is my all time favorite recipe, but is so labor intensive I usually request it only for birthdays. And now that my mother has passed on, I'm sure she won't mind you sharing it with your friends. You might check with Judy first though if she's your source. Look what she went through to get it.

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