I do a lot of complicated things in the kitchen sometimes. This, luckily for you, is NOT one of them. I’d been making homemade Chicken Rice-a-Roni for a while but still needed a substitute for boxed Mexican rice as a side with tacos. I came up with something so delicious and so easy, even kids can make it!
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 3/4 cup water
- 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 can kidney or black beans (or dry equivalent)
- 2 Tbs. taco seasoning
- Optional add-ins:
- 1 cup frozen corn
- chopped onion
- chopped green peppers
- colored peppers
- chili peppers
- *For me, adding chopped onions and peppers keeps it as easy as a box mix because they’re always already prepped in my freezer. I just froze a bunch of farmer’s market peppers for the winter!
- Here’s the trick to make it really taste like the boxed mix: Saute the rice first either in a dry pan or in a tad bit of butter (or both, one after the other). Keep stirring CONstantly, just like it says on the Rice-a-Roni boxes! You’re shooting for browned, not blackened, of course, so keep a close eye.
- THEN add the water, tomato sauce and taco seasoning.
- This works whether you’re soaking (see below) or not, and totally changes the mouth-feel and taste of the finished dish, definitely for the better.
- Bring to a boil and turn heat to low, covered, for 45 minutes (no peeking!).
- Add the beans and optional add-ins and simmer 5 more minutes until heated through.
To soak rice: Follow this method to soak brown rice. Drain the rice, saute dry rice (it will take almost 10 minutes to fully dry out and brown), and add the water and tomato sauce. If a lot of water seems to evaporate hitting the hot pot, add a few extra tablespoons.
White rice works great, you just use the cook time for the rice (usually 15 mins. for short grain and 20 mins. for basmati).
This recipe makes at least twice as much as your basic boxed mix, so be ready for leftovers.
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