I’ve spoken of my adopted family the Carrillo before & again. My love for genuine Mexican food is not something I can keep hidden. In fact, just the other night I was having dinner at a friend’s house and someone asked where I grew up. My answer going back to Yuma, Az, which inevitably leads to my love of Mexican food. I was asked what type of Mexican food stood out as the best back in my hometown. And it always, always goes back to the Carrillo’s home.
Mrs. Carrillo would make fresh flour tortillas on the comal. Mr. Carrillo would eat jalapenos straight from the jar while watching soccer, while I would stare in amazement. I learned by eating a jalapeno straight from the jar that you need to drink milk or pour some salt on your tongue to get that burning feeling away (I wanted to show everyone I too could be strong enough, but I only got so far as let it touch my tongue while running to the kitchen–while Mr. Carrillo would simply sweat from the heat). I learned that not all Mexicans like menudo and Mrs. Carrillo would make a pre-cow tongue batch for Veronica. Nopales con carne became my all time favorite dish (cactus with meat). And that the only way you would get a recipe from Mrs. Carrillo was to watch her at her art.
She didn’t have these recipes on paper filed neatly away. They instinctively ran through her person. Still to this day, the only recipe Veronica has from her mom is her flour tortillas (which I don’t–umm, I really need that if you’re reading Mrs. Carrillo). However, I did get the nopales con carne recipe, simply by watching her in the kitchen–her talking half in English and the other half in Spanish (Mrs. Carrillo a firm believer that I could really understand a lot more Spanish than I let on–but she didn’t let it get in the way). I would even ask Veronica if she had any of her mom’s recipes, to which she would say, “I always ask her and she always gets sidetracked.”
So, I decided one day back in my college days that I needed a genuine Spanish rice recipe to make for dinner. I called up Mrs. Carrillo & got it from her. No sidetracking that I saw. I think it still makes Veronica jealous (in that good sort of way) that I have one up’d her in the recipe department. And now I pass it on to you. Very simple, very good, and pure comfort.
Mrs. Carrillo’s Spanish Rice (printable recipe)
I changed this up a bit, but not much. I will put her recipe as is and in parenthesis put my changes.
2 cups white rice (I used long grain)
1 big clove of garlic, or 2 smaller ones, crushed
2-4 Tb oil (I used canola, I wouldn’t use olive oil)
1-14 oz can tomato sauce
2 chicken bouillon cubes (I used 4 cups homemade chicken broth, unsalted)
4 cups water
1/2 of a small white onion, cut into four small pieces.
Put rice in a bowl and add enough water to cover it. Stir it around with your fingers to clean & rinse the rise. Drain the water and set aside.
In a heavy bottom pot (8 qt) over medium heat, add about 2 Tb oil and add the crushed garlic. Stirring constantly to avoid browning it. Add more oil if the pot is getting dry. Cook garlic for about one minute. Add the rinsed rice to the pot. Stirring constantly, adding more oil if need be. You want to toast the rice, cooking it till it’s a nice golden to medium brown color (not all of it will get toasted, it’s more of an overall appearance). This will take around 8-12 minutes.
Slowly add in the tomato sauce, being very careful, because the liquid will splatter. Add either the chicken bouillon cubes & 4 cups water, or 4 cups chicken broth. Stir completely to get all the rice covered. Add the 4 halves of onion. Allow the mixture to reach a boil. Once it boils, turn the heat to low & cover. Cook for an additional 20-30 minutes. You want to check on it to see how much of the liquid it has absorbed. You’ll know it’s done when there’s still a little liquid resonating on the sides of the pot, but when you stir it around it disappears.
Remove from the heat, season with salt to taste if you used unsalted chicken broth (no need with chicken bouillon).