Tex-Mex Rice

Tex-Mex Rice

I intend to post on this blog about delicious Mexican food for as long as humanly possible. With that in mind, I think it makes sense to share my favorite side dish to go with things like Salsa Verde Chicken Enchiladas. This Tex-Mex rice is a family recipe, and it’s a far cry from the stuff you sometimes get in restaurants with chunks of peas and carrots that were clearly recently defrosted.

This Tex-Mex rice is cooked in olive oil and chicken broth, and flavored with onion, garlic, and chili powder; oregano; cumin; and a little bit of enchilada sauce. It’s a perfect choice to complement black beans and just about any version of tacos, enchiladas, or burrito you want to make. The rice definitely isn’t spicy, but it has a depth of flavor that makes it delicious even just eaten by itself.

Tex-Mex rice doesn’t take much longer to make than traditional rice, because the only extra steps are browning it briefly in olive oil, and adding the seasonings. It can be made while the rest of dinner is cooking, and it keeps well in an air-tight container, in the refrigerator, for about a week. This rice has a slightly higher nutrition content than plain or cilantro-lime rice, since it’s cooked in chicken broth. You can also make it with vegetable broth to keep it animal-product free.

My favorite way to eat Tex-Mex rice is in a big burrito bowl, because it’s a perfectly mild, yet flavorful, base to build on with just about any Mexican flavors. However you decide to serve it, in a burrito, a bowl, or just on the side, this recipe will change the way you look at rice.

5 from 1 vote
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Tex-Mex Rice

Servings 3 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 cup raw white rice
  • 3/4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 14oz chicken broth (or a mix of broth and water, or vegetable broth)
  • 1 Tbsp enchilada sauce or smooth salsa
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp dried leaf oregano

Instructions

  1. Stir together seasonings and salt, set aside. If the broth is cold, warm it to at least room temperature. Combine broth with the enchilada sauce. Set aside.

    2. Heat the olive oil in a medium pot with a tightly-fitting lid (lid off). Add the rice, and stir over medium-high heat until lightly browned, just to an ivory or light tan color.

    3. Stir the seasonings into the rice, and then add the broth. Stir once, to distribute evenly. When the broth comes to a full boil, put the lid on the pot, and turn the heat to the lowest setting. Let cook for 20 minutes. Do not remove the lid during cooking time. Check for doneness after 20 minutes; if the liquid has not been completely absorbed, cover the pot again and let it cook another 5 minutes or so.

    For best texture, cook a day or two ahead of serving, cool, and then refrigerate. Reheat in the microwave just before serving.


Better Chicken Vino Bianco

Better Chicken Vino Bianco

This recipe is one of my favorite dinners, and only partly because the recipe involves wine. It’s pretty quick to make, and all the prep can be done ahead of time, so you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen to make something wonderful. Since the chicken doesn’t actually cook in the sauce, you can buy a roasted chicken and use that if you’re especially short on time. Short cuts that don’t diminish the final product are essentially just examples of good time management, right?

Chicken Vino Bianco is typically served over pasta, but I chose to make this dish with rice. The rice absorbs the sauce better than pasta ever could, soaking up the flavor and making sure it ends up in your mouth instead of on the bottom of the dish. The sauce itself is rich and creamy, without feeling heavy, and the flavor of the wine comes through without being overpowering. You can use chicken broth and maybe a little lemon juice in place of the wine and still have a silky, beautifully flavored sauce.

Better Chicken Vino Bianco is loaded with vegetables, but you hardly even notice them because with a little wine and cream in the mix, all the vegetables cook down into the glorious, smooth sauce. This recipe involves fresh grape tomatoes, spinach, shredded carrot, onion, and mushrooms. The tomatoes add a freshness that balances the heavy cream, and the onions, carrot, and spinach add loads of flavor as well as bulk and color.

Every recipe for Chicken Vino Bianco I looked at called for mushrooms. I’ll just say it – I hate mushrooms. I’ve been on a quest to force myself to like foods that I hate, in order to broaden my palate (it’s too complicated to be a food-lover who hates popular flavors like mushrooms and bananas). This was a great place to start, because I chopped the mushrooms so small that they all but disappeared into the sauce, and I could forget they were there.

I’ve tried the recipe sans mushrooms and the flavor just wasn’t the same. If you happen to love them, you can just roughly chop them before adding them to the skillet. You can do that with all of the vegetables in this dish, depending on what you like. If you’re of the vegetarian persuasion, you could also opt to increase the mushrooms in place of the chicken. I don’t think I’ll ever like mushrooms enough to live that life, but I hear some people think they’re amazing. Teach me your ways, please.

Like most of my recipes, this one was developed over time, based on a lot of similar recipes. I love taking a concept and changing it to fit my personal needs – especially when the result is something this tasty!  With its irresistible sauce and depth of flavors, Better Chicken Vino Bianco is a beautiful, savory dish that still feels light and healthy. And thank goodness for that, since it practically comes with a built-in wine course. The recipe only calls for a cup, and it would be a shame to waste the rest!




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Better Chicken Vino Bianco


Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup quartered grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Slice chicken into bite sized pieces and cook in a Tbsp of olive oil. Cook gently, over medium heat, to prevent chicken drying out. Remove cooked chicken from the skillet.

    2. Place onion, shredded carrot, garlic, and a Tbsp of olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Let cook until everything starts to soften, stirring occasionally.

    3. While onions are cooking, cut tomatoes into quarters, and chop mushrooms - I diced mine very very small, but you could just chop them roughly if you love mushrooms. Add both to the skillet with 1 tsp of salt and let cook until soft. 

    4. Add wine to the skillet and bring to a simmer. Cook until the sauce starts to reduce. Turn off heat and add cream. Stir until well combined. Salt to taste. Add chicken to the skillet and mix until coated with sauce. 

    5. Serve over warm rice or pasta.