I have been looking for a great Tex-Mex rice recipe for years. I must admit Knorr Rice Sides makes a dependable Mexican rice that will work in a pinch, but I still wanted my own.
This recipe is my favorite! It can be dolled up with whatever you like in your rice! Chopped cilantro, sour cream, and pico de gallo are all safe bets. A sprinkle of cumin would work as well. I like a bit of cheese on mine, but you do what you like! In the photos, you will see that I added meat from a rotisserie chicken.
To make my Tex-Mex Rice, you will need:
1/4 onion, diced
I fresh carrot diced into small 1/4 inch pieces or use about a 1/4 cup frozen diced carrot
1 clove of garlic, minced
8 oz. can tomato sauce (I did not have one so I used a little more than half of a 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes – either will work)
1 2/3 cups water (or amount of water the rice package says to use)
1 – 5 oz. package of yellow rice mix with seasonings; I used Mahatma Brand, but another brand will work–just be sure to adjust the water according to package directions
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup frozen green peas
Shredded cheddar cheese, optional
If you have a large, covered cast iron baker or enameled cast iron baker, use it, and you will only need to wash one pot.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Sauté the onion and carrot in 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium heat. Once the carrot and onion begin to soften, add the garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent and the carrot is al dente. Remove from heat.
Add the tomatoes, water, bay leaf, and rice. Cook, covered for 30 minutes in the oven or until rice is tender.
Remove from the oven and add the peas. Mix the peas in with the rice so they will warm. Remove bay leaf.
Serve immediately with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese over the top. This goes great with your favorite Tex-Mex foods.
Bonus Information: If you want more of the dry, fried texture that you often find in a Mexican food restaurant, then fry the rice over medium-high heat in a tablespoon of olive oil before you cook it. Just let it start to brown a little, then continue with the recipe above.