The thing I miss the most about living in Texas (besides my friends and family, of course) is the food. Mealtimes are events in the south. They happen late in the day, lasting hours, over drinks and music. Everyone brings a dish to pass and no one leaves before pitching in to help clean the kitchen. Always.
After growing up in Texas, one of my favorite ethnic foods is Mexican. My palette is quite snobby too. I have yet to find a restaurant here in Michigan that comes close to the mouth-watering flavors of authentic Tex-Mex cuisine. Except maybe one: La Fuente in Ypsilanti, MI. Whenever we try a different “authentic” Mexican food restaurant, I hold my breath in hopes of finding “the one”. I always order the same things too: enchiladas and spanish rice. If those two items are good, then the restaurant passes inspection. If not – well, we never darken their door again. There are not enough Margaritas to make me forget crappy food.
The other night we had some left-over rotisserie chicken. My pantry is always stocked with canned enchilada sauce, refried black beans and tortillas; so it was a no-brainer on dinner. I filled flour tortillas with chicken, a handful of shredded cheese and diced onions. Then rolled each one, placed them seam-side down in a glass baking dish. On top I sprinkled more cheese and poured a generous amount of enchilada sauce. The whole pan was put in the oven with home-made spanish rice. I believe this recipe to be the best Tex-Mex rice this side of Texas and takes almost no time to make. It’s great to have meals that come together easily and all at the same time.
My Favorite No-Fail Spanish Rice
1 whole green pepper, chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 can of Rotel tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup tomato sauce
3/4 cup uncooked long-grain rice
1 bay leaf
A generous dash of cayenne pepper
1/2 cup beef stock
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Saute first 2 ingredients in hot oil in a large skillet until tender; drain. Drain Rotel tomatoes, reserving liquid. Add enough water to tomato liquid to measure 1 cup. Add tomatoes, tomato liquid, tomato sauce, rice, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper to green pepper mixture, stirring well. Bring mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Add beef stock to the rice mixture. Stir in remaining ingredients. Spoon into a shallow baking dish (I use a small Pyrex oval casserole dish.) Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
Yield: 4-6 servings
Source: The Southern Living Cookbook