One thing I love is finding one of those recipes that are not only delicious, but super easy to make. A few years ago I stumbled upon just such a dish. I picked up a copy of Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday. I had checked out one of his other cookbooks from the library before and enjoyed the recipes I tried from it. Bonus was and this book was marketed as Mexican dishes that are a bit easier to prepare – I had to have it!
Hands down my favorite recipe in this book is Classic Mexican Red Rice. It’s so good! It’s a wonderful side dish to your typical Mexican restaurant style plate of enchiladas, refried beans and rice. But another great thing about all of Mexican Everyday, is that Rick includes some “riffs” on each recipe. Ways to change each dish up a bit. He includes a way to make the Classic Mexican Red Rice into dinner.
Give this one a try, I don’t think you will be disappointed!
Classic Mexican Red Rice Dinner
Serves 6 to 8
1-1/2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 – 8 Chicken Thighs (I usually use boneless, but it’s great with bone in as well.)
1.5 Cups white rice (medium grain is best, but any white rice works well. Doesn’t work as well with brown rice, in my experience!)
1 Cup diced onion (you can use more or less, it’s not really important)
1 Cup diced bell pepper (red or green, whatever you like or have on hand.)
1 Cup Uncle Richard’s Salsa (or you can use your favorite store bought salsa.)
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Cup each of frozen peas and frozen corn
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Heat a medium sized, oven safe saucepan over medium heat. Add in the oil and brown both sides of the chicken. About 5 minutes per side. Remove browned chicken to a plate.
Add the rice, onion and bell pepper. Stir frequently, until the grains of rice have turned from translucent to a kind of milky white – about 5 minutes. It’s OK if some of the rice gets a bit brown.
Then add in the salsa, broth and about 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir it all together. Then add back in the browned chicken thighs, along with any juices that end up on the plate. Bring the whole thing to a boil.
Cover the pan and bake it in the oven for 20 minutes. Uncover, then sprinkle in the frozen peas and corn. Put the lid back on and cook for 5 more minutes. Let it all stand for 5 additional minutes. Then fluff the rice and serve!
It’s great just as it is, but a little fresh chopped cilantro or squeeze of fresh lime on top are both nice additions.
(slightly adapted from Rick Bayless’ Classic Mexican Red Rice, featured in his book Mexican Everyday.)