Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo) Demystified

I’ve tried many recipes for Mexican red rice or “arroz rojo” and failed. My rice would be too gooey or too crunchy… I was definitely doing something wrong even though I thought I was following the instructions. Earlier this year my friend, Maria Elena, gave me a recipe for arroz rojo for a fish taco fundraiser that my Catholic Daughters of the Americas group was hosting. I lost the recipe in my email box somewhere — it was under someone else’s name and it was an attachment that had other recipes. So needless to say it took a while me to find it.

It was so darn simple! I can’t believe I over-complicated things (I take that back… I usually over-complicate things).  My main problem was that I didn’t use long-grain white rice. I’m a calrose rice chick… I grew up on that stuff. THAT is the reason why my rice turned out gooey. Another problem I found was that I always put too much tomato sauce. Too much tomato sauce doesn’t absorb into the rice. Lesson learned.

So here’s the recipe. It makes 4-6 servings.

Ingredients:

  • 2 plum/roma tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 ¾ cup chicken broth ( veg. broth or water)
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon of salt and about 1/4 tsp of pepper)

Mise en place. Prep this so you’re ready when you need it! (I forgot the cilantro… it still tasted good without it)

 

LONG GRAIN white rice. Don’t make my mistake!

Liquid ingredients

Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat.

Add the onions and sauté until translucent (about 2-3 minutes).

Add the garlic and stir in the rice. Cook until slightly toasted, about 3 minutes. This will coat the rice and make it yum.

Add the broth, tomato sauce, and chopped tomatoes, bring to a boil.

Add the cilantro, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.

Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.

DON’T PEEK!

Seriously.

Rice needs steam to cook it. Lifting the lid will remove the steam and increase your cooking time!

After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the rice rest, covered for 8 minutes and you will get this:

It doesn’t look right, you say?

Well, fluff it with a fork.

 

Ta da! Easy as that.

And tasty too!

If you have a way to make it in the oven I’d like to hear it! I need to make this in larger quantities (in a pan) somehow. Stay tuned for more pieces of this meal! In the meantime, let me know what your favorite Mexican food/recipe is by posting in the comments below!

Mexican Red Rice (Arroz Rojo)

My friend, Maria Elena, shared this recipe with me after my struggles with arroz rojo. It produces the perfect texture and flavor for this traditional Mexican side dish.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 6
Author Melissa Hiatt (Making it Sweet)

Ingredients

  • 2 plum/roma tomatoes finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 ¾ cup chicken broth vegetable broth or water is good, too
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste I used about 1 teaspoon of salt and about 1/4 tsp of pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and sauté until translucent (about 2-3 minutes).
  3. Add the garlic and stir in the rice. Cook until slightly toasted, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the broth, tomato sauce, and chopped tomatoes, bring to a boil.
  5. Add the cilantro, oregano and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 15 minutes.
  7. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the rice rest, covered for 8 minutes.
  8. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Recipe Notes

You may omit the cilantro if you're not a fan of the flavor. I personally like it - but the rice without cilantro tastes just as good.