No joke... This is the best Mexican rice I have ever tasted. There are quite a few steps involved, but I think they are worth every last one of them. I would take 15 minutes more work with this result over a convenient boxed mix any day! The first time I made this, my husband was inspecting the rice. I was waiting for him to bust out his magnifying glass and ask Watson to solve the mystery of the delicious rice. Finally he asked, "How did you do this?!" Well, I keep a little Mexican woman named Maria under the kitchen sink. Not really, but it tastes authentic and I'm sure if there was a Mexican woman named Maria that lived in my kitchen, I just might beat her at a Mexican rice throwdown! Bring it on! I've got my sombrero ready.
1 can diced tomatoes
1 medium white onion
3 medium jalapenos (I only used 1 in the hopes that my kids would eat it)
2 c long grain white rice (not instant!), uncooked
1/3 c canola oil
4 minced garlic cloves
2 c chicken broth
1 T tomato paste
1 1/2 t salt
1/2 c fresh cilantro
Preheat oven to 350.
Place diced tomatoes and onions in a blender or food processor. Process until smooth. Transfer to a measuring cup to get 2 c of the mixture. Discard the rest.
Remove the seeds and veins from 3 jalapenos If you want less heat, use one.
Place rice in a fine mesh strainer and run under water until the water runs clear- about 1-2 minutes. Don't skip this step! This removes the starch from the rice and it cooks up better.
Heat oil in an oven safe dutch oven pan over medium-high heat. (If you don't have one, use any skillet and later transfer the mixture to an oven-safe dish.) Make sure the oil is hot enough by dropping in a couple grains of rice. If it sizzles, it's ready. Add the rice and fry it for 6-8 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium. Add in 2 diced jalapenos and garlic. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Add the broth, pureed mixture, tomato paste, and salt. Bring back to a boil. Place the lid on the oven-safe dish and place it in the oven. If you don't have an oven-safe dutch oven, transfer the rice to an oven-safe dish and cover it with foil.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring after 15 minutes.
Take it out. Add the chopped cilantro and the remaining diced jalapeno. Stir.
Garnish with lime wedges.