Over the last few months since we started limiting our dining at our restaurants, one of the dishes we miss the most is Mexican food. Here in Texas, one of our blessings is an abundance of rich, spicy, southwestern food.
Tex-Mex is now known internationally and is considered a subgroup of southwestern cuisine. This is a mix of traditional Mexican and Spanish authentic food that originated around San Antonio during the mission era when Texas was the northern province of Mexico.
Long ago in my life I was fortunate to live in New Mexico which has its own food culture that is very different from our Tex-Mex. The cuisine is also of native origin to the area and the Spanish and Mexican cultures. The two dishes are delicious and different from each other. And they both offer the distinctive layers of flavor that are the hallmarks of traditional Mexican food.
While the flavor of the coating isn’t unique to Mexican food, it’s a good place to experience this interesting food technique. Think of your favorite enchilada, a combination dish made with layers of flavor. Rolled corn tortillas with flavorful filling; maybe cheese, onions and salsa or chili bacon with peppers; then covered with a flavorful sauce; red ranchero, Texas-style green chili or brown chili sauce; and then topped with yellow cheese and maybe some chopped green onions or tomatoes. The final product becomes a feast of layered flavors!
If you’ve been cooking at home like us for a long time, it’s a good idea to stop your routine regularly with special food events. I decided to do the Mexican Food Extravaganza! (Listen to Mexican radio for proper emphasis on announcing your Mexican Food Extravaganza!)
If we went to a restaurant, what dishes would I choose? Your event starts with a menu. I decided to make from scratch refried beans, Spanish rice, green chilies and a sauce made from green chilies to a top enchilada.
As a support character, I bought ready-made guacamole, good red salsa and some chips. Needless to say, this required 2 days of preparation. Think about Thanksgiving. We cooked for 2 days and then feasted on the leftovers for the next several days. We enjoyed our Mexican Food Extravaganza! for a few nights.
Each time the menu is slightly changed to be interesting. We had a cheese and onion enchilada with green chili sauce accompanied by refried beans and Spanish rice. The next meal was a green chili taco with guacamole salad. You understand. As we finished our last meal, we were both amazed at how much less bored of the Mexican Food Extravaganza we were! (same emphasis)
Add this month’s Spanish rice to your recipe file. It’s easy to make and stand alone or serve as an excellent companion for your next Mexican Food Extravaganza!
In this recipe, combining olive oil with butter produces the best fat. Olive oil with a high smoke point is ideal for sautéing and the butter adds a rich savory flavor. Sautéing brown rice before steaming adds flavor to the rice and reduces cooking time a bit. Worcestershire sauce is not a traditional ingredient but we add flavor. When cooking rice, we all learn about the mandate, “Don’t lift the lid until it’s cooked!” However, in this dish, it is important to look for pitting that indicates the liquid is being absorbed. A pot with a translucent lid is preferable but if necessary, you should monitor to see when to stir the bottom of the pot. Seasoned rice will tend to get sticky once the juices are absorbed.
During these days when we rarely eat out at restaurants, it’s a great time to explore themed evenings at home. Why wait for the next vacation. Let’s have our own party! What’s your next meal extravaganza?
The Scallon Team are registered dietitians nutritionists with years of experience practicing nutritional therapy in local hospitals and clinics, teaching nutrition and developing healthy recipes. He is a resident of Nacogdoches and he helped create the popular TV show, Memorial Cooking Innovations, which celebrates the worlds of food and health. Memorial Cooking Innovations currently runs in 62 cities and is available locally on the Sudden Link 2 cable line in Nacogdoches.
Serving Size: 1/8 recipe; Servings: 8
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
½ large garlic, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
1¼ cup brown rice
1 8oz canned tomato sauce, no added salt
1 14 ½ ounce can of tomatoes, thawed
Low-sodium vegetable broth that is sufficient to make 2½ cups of liquid when combined with ketchup and stored tomato juice (~ 1 cup)
1½ teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt to taste
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Juice from 1 lime
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, just leaves, chopped
In a large skillet with a tight lid or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter together over medium heat. Sauté the onions and poblano until tender and fragrant. Stir the rice until evenly coated and saute for 3 minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, liquid mixture, and spices and stir until blended. Add Worcestershire, lime and coriander, bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for ~ 25-30 minutes until liquid is absorbed. After the liquid is absorbed, stir the rice so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the rice. Continue cooking if necessary until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.
Exchange per serving
1 Starch, ½ vegetables
Nutrition per serving
Calories from fat: 20
Total Fat: 4g
Total Carbohydrates: 14g
Dietary Fiber: 3g