Basic Preparations/

Red Tomato Rice

Arroz Rojo
This is the classic most everyone has enjoyed at Mexican homes and restaurants, the comforting, reddish-orange mount of deliciously separate grains infused with herby tomatoes and a hint of green chile. I haven’t called for the carrots and peas you often find in this rice, but feel free to add 2 peeled, chopped carrots to the rice as it cooks, then gently stir in a cup or more of blanched or defrosted peas once its done. In many traditional Mexican kitchens, where rice is made daily, raw rice is fried in a cup or more or oil, then strained. The oil is saved for the next day’s rice. My method uses only a small amount of oil, but requires near-constant stirring during the raw-rice frying. At my house, I finish the rice in my rice cooker because it keeps the rice warm until I’m ready to serve. I know: it’s another pan to wash, but the ease of having warm rice at hand when I’ve gathered folks at the table is much appreciated. Mexico’s most famous rice is cultivated in Morelos, and it is a medium—not long—grain. In my opinion, it cooks up with a better (some would say meatier) texture. I love it and encourage you to try medium-grain rice here.
Servings: 6cups, serving 6 to 8


  • 115-ounce can diced tomatoes (I prefer fire-roasted), lightly drained OR 12 ounces (2 medium-small round or 4 to 6 plum) very ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1/2small white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 1 1/2tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2cups white rice, preferably medium-grain
  • 1 3/4cups chicken broth or water
  • Fresh hot green chiles to taste (roughly 3 serranos or 2 jalapeños), a slit cut down the length of each one
  • About 1/4cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
  • salt


Make the tomato flavoring.  In a blender or food processor, combine the tomatoes (drained canned or chopped raw) with the onion and garlic.  Blend to a smooth puree.  


Fry the raw rice.  In a medium (3-quart) saucepan with a tight fitting lid (one that’s about 8 inches in diameter is perfect for even cooking), heat the oil over medium.  Add the raw rice and stir frequently until the kernels have turned from translucent to milky white, 5 to 6 minutes—it is fine for some browning to take place. Add the tomato mixture, stir around a couple of times, then let cook until reduced and somewhat dry-looking, 2 to 3 minutes.


Simmer the rice.  Add the broth or water, bring to a full boil, then add the chiles, parsley and the salt, about ¾ teaspoon if using lightly salted broth, 1½ teaspoons if using unsalted broth or water.  Stir thoroughly, scraping down any rice kernels clinging to the side of the pan.  Cover and cook over lowest heat for 20 minutes—the temperature should be low enough that only the slightest hint of steam escapes from the lid. Or scrape everything into a rice cooker, turn it to “cook” and set a timer for 20 minutes. (My rice cooker typically flips to “keep warm” after about 6 minutes.  Don’t worry: the rice will continue to cook on the “keep warm” setting.) At 20 minutes, the rice should be tender. Use a fork to gently fluff the rice to release the steam and stop the cooking.  Recover and let stand a few minutes longer for the starch in the rice to firm (or hold on “keep warm” in the rice cooker for up to 1 ½ hours). You’re ready to serve. You may remove the chiles if you wish, or pull them out to use as decoration on top of the rice.


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