I love love love Mexican-style rice. I especially love that I FINALLY mastered it. I didn’t bother trying for most of my life, because it seemed complicated – my Mema (my nickname for my maternal grandmother) was always in the kitchen all day, cooking. That is what cooking meant to me, for years. Finding a quick and easy way to make home-cooked meals wasn’t even something I considered. It was either boxed meals or meals that took all day. A few years ago, I figured out a few recipes I could make quickly and easily. And then I discovered Crock-pot cooking, which I became enamored with immediately. I wore my poor Crock-pot out (it stopped heating), so I went back to cooking one-pot meals or quick-fix meals.
Anyway, if you’re here it’s probably because you want to know how I made the rice, not read a bunch of my personal food love/hate history. 🙂 (That’s for you, B … I know you hate long stories!)
I have been practicing my Mexican Rice for just about 2 years now (4-5 times a year). And in the last 2 months, I think I’ve finally perfected it. Just goes to show, practice makes perfect!
Butternut Squash Mexican-Style Rice
1.5 C long-grain rice
1.5 C hot water
1 C water, unheated
1 small onion, diced
3/4 C Butternut Squash (prepped in advance)
1 garlic clove
1/2 t salt
1/4 t nutmeg
Start by rinsing the rice. Some people prefer to use a metal mesh strainer for this, but I just put it in a large bowl and run water into it, pouring it out ever time it fills back up. Your water should be just about clear when you finish. Drain it well (take a plate that is slightly larger than the bowl, hold them together, carefully leave a small opening not big enough for rice to fit through).
Heat oil in skillet, add rice, stirring carefully. Don’t let it burn, but don’t move it too much. While the rice is browning, drop your squash, garlic, salt, and nutmeg into a blender or food processor, add hot water (you may need to start with just 1/2 cup at a time), and blend/process until smooth. You can leave some chunks, but I like it nice and silky smooth for this recipe.
When rice is browned, add the butternut squash/hot water mixture to the pan, stir the pan 2-3 times, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover.
DO NOT STIR RICE AT ANY OTHER POINT FROM HERE ON!
When water has reduced and rice looks dry, add enough water (just tapwater is fine – not fridge-cold, but not heated) to cover the rice. DO NOT STIR. Turn heat back up, bring back to a boil. Reduce heat again and allow rice to cook, covered, on low. In another 10-20 minutes, you’ll have perfect cooked, perfectly fluffy Mexican rice, flavored with delicious butternut squash. It’s the perfect accompaniment for any main dish, but especially delicious with chicken & butternut squash enchiladas (recipe to come in the next few weeks) or Butternut Squash Chili.