Red rice, also referred to as Spanish rice has been a favorite of mine since childhood. My mother and namesake, Dolores, is known for her Spanish rice and she explains that once one has mastered the steps, it is a snap to make. But don’t underestimate the avenues of possibility for this recipe to go wrong. Sauté it too long and it will burn; overwater it and you will end up with a pot of mush. Heaven forbid that you stir it or prematurely remove the lid – it will be ruined completely! For these reasons, I felt it appropriate to turn to the Spanish Rice Master, my mother, to walk us through a recipe that she has been preparing for well over 20 years.
As a young newlywed, I was under the false romantic illusion that one could live on love alone. Soon enough, I discovered that I also needed to eat! One of the first recipes I learned to make was my mother’s red rice. It was a practical side dish that could be paired with chicken, shrimp, beef or pork. Decades later, I always remember to include the special ingredient that my mother always said made her food so good – love! – Dolores M. Wiarco (my mother)
Recipe Dolores M. Wiarco (my mother)
3 tablespoons oil
½ small onion diced finely
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup long-grain white rice
½ teaspoon ground pepper (or to taste)
½ 8-ounce (small) can tomato sauce
2 cups well-seasoned chicken broth (or 2 cups water + 1 ½ tablespoons powdered chicken bullion)
- Saute onion and garlic with oil over medium heat. Stir to avoid burning.
- Once onion becomes translucent, add rice and saute for 10 to 15 minutes until lightly browned. Stir frequently to avoid burning. I usually stir my rice every 2 to 3 minutes.
- Once rice is lightly browned, add tomato sauce and mix well.
- Add pepper and chicken broth, then stir well one time. Next, raise flame to medium-high and bring to a boil. Allow to boil until water evaporates to the point where you just begin to see the rice through the water.
- Cover, lower flame to low, and cook for 20 minutes. Do not uncover to check if it is ready.
- Remove from heat and let stand for another 10 minutes. When ready, fluff with fork and serve hot.
Note: I sometimes like to add ½ cup of frozen corn kernels, frozen peas, or 1 small tomato diced when I add the tomato sauce for extra color. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT stir rice more than once after adding water. You may be tempted to stir again, or to uncover, but this may lead to soggy, sticky rice!