I’ve really had a desire to cook more authentic Mexican food lately. I don’t know if I’m longing for my days in Southern California, or if it’s just one-quarter of my heritage calling (I’m one-quarter Mexican), but I’ve really been wanting to cook Mexican food and to cook it right. I did some research on Mexican herbs and spices so I could put together dishes with more authentic flavor profiles. I bought Mexican oregano (surprisingly different from Italian oregano), epazote, achiote/annatto seeds, among others. I’m ashamed to say that they’ve just been sitting sadly in my pantry – until tonight.
I decided I wanted to put my new spices to use tonight no matter how long it took, so I poked around for some Mexican rice recipes. I know many recipes say that Mexican rice is red because of a tomato base, but I also know that achiote/annatto seeds are used for both flavoring and coloring food. I decided to go with the achiote/annatto seeds over the tomatoes. Some recipes were complicated with lots of ingredients that I didn’t have and didn’t feel like buying tonight, so I winged it. The only change I’d make moving forward is using more annatto seeds (which I reflected in the recipe below). This rice tasted great as the annatto seeds really brought a lightly nutty, lightly peppery taste to the rice. The flavor is really quite difficult to describe, other than saying it tastes like the flavor infused into the oil by the annatto seeds. You’ll have to just make it and see for yourself.
- 2 cups long grain white rice, uncooked
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1.5 tbsp annatto/achiote seeds
- 4 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- kosher salt
- Heat oil in bottom of large saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Once hot, add whole annatto seeds.
- Allow annatto seeds to cook in oil for 2-3 minutes, swirling the pan constantly to keep the seeds moving. You should see your oil turning a very dark red.
- After 2-3 minutes, strain by pouring oil through a strainer into a small bowl, with the strainer catching the annatto seeds. You don’t want the seeds in your rice.
- Put oil back into the saucepan and heat again over medium-high heat.
- Add onions to the oil. Cook until they just begin to get soft, around 2 minutes.
- Add garlic and dry rice to the oil/onions in the pan. Mix until everything is bright red.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add vegetable broth.
- Turn heat up to high. Bring to a rapid, rolling boil.
- Once boiling, cover pan and turn heat down to medium-low (closer to the low side)
- Cook, covered, for about 15 or 20 minutes, until the rice is cooked through when you taste it. If the rice is cooked but there is extra liquid, cook with lid off for a few minutes until the extra liquid has evaporated. Taste, and add salt as needed.
- Serve piping hot with ground beef, chorizo, tacos, fajitas, anything you want!