Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Almost Perfect Spanish Rice

I love Spanish Rice. And I eat it whenever it's an option. My earliest memory of having Spanish Rice was when I was really young and all four of us grandkids were at Grandma Melanie's house. And Leslie was there but still allergic to everything and she made Spanish Rice for us. I remember thinking "Spanish Rice comes from far away. She must know how to make this stuff because she can speak French too." I was young enough to be clueless to the world of cookbooks.

By the time I was old enough to ask Grandma for the coveted Spanish Rice recipe, she had already been diabetic for years and the flavor of the rice had changed. Needless to say, she probably never really had a recipe anyway. Although, I heard that my cousin Allisongot her hands on it! But I have something that Allison doesn't have. The Spanish Rice "pan." The significance of which was lost on me until I began to love cooking and appreciate really good cookware!

The infamous Spanish Rice pan is a REALLY old red/orange cast iron Le Creuset pot with a lid. It even says "Made in France" on the bottom! And the Spanish Rice that had been baked in it for 30 years or longer that came with it washed right out...Grandma's eyes were pretty bad. She couldn't see to wash the dishes so I think she just wiped them out. Gross, I know!

I have attempted, and failed miserably) at Spanish rice more than a hundred times. Last night was my first attempt in the special Spanish Rice pan. I don't know if it was luck, the lessons I learned from failed attempts, or maybe Grandma working me through it with the special pan, but it turned out almost perfect.

No recipe, no calls for help, and no cookbooks. Just the perfect pan and a million fond, loving memories of Grandma Melanie. She was the only thing missing that made my Spanish Rice fall short of perfect! I miss her every day but know that she'd be really proud of my Spanish Rice and love of cooking. And she'd be tickled that I love her pan too.

And it was so good, that Chris said it goes on "the list." A pretend list of the foods I will serve the the pretend restaurant I will pretend open someday!

Here's what I did:
Cooked 1 cup brown rice in 2 1/2 cups water with a touch of chicken bullion
It said to cook covered for 40-50 minutes. After about 30 minutes I added a cup and a half of chopped onions.
When the rice was done and onions super soft, I added 2 cups of petite diced tomatoes (from a can-Hunts is my favorite). I had drained the water from them but ended up adding it back in.

I let that hang out over low heat and added a little garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, a little chili powder (not much) and a hint of ground red pepper.

After it was all cooked, I put it in the special Spanish Rice pan and squished up 8 saltine crackers and sprinkled over the top and browned in the broiler. It yields about 5 cups of Spanish Rice and was wonderful as a side dish with our grilled chicken.

It was even better today as a main dish for my lunch! And Chris' too! Two dinners, two lunches, and just enough left over for lunch tomorrow for long as I get to the kitchen first!

p.s. Grandma used to say she was "tickled" a lot. I think that expression really spoke to her and perfectly described how she felt. I get it now. It seemed fitting to use it today.


  1. Oh, what a lovely tribute to your grandma and my mom. I remember her making Spanish Rice many times in that pan. I seem to remember that she used uncooked rice with lots of juice from her stewed tomatoes. I will haul out her recipe box and see if I can find it.

  2. OMG, we LOVE to cook and LOVE Le Creuset! We have 4 pieces, four different colors. We have given it to our kids, and they too didn't know the value of great cookware until using this stuff. We use ours almost daily. There is a great "outlet" store in Birch Run.

    We will try the spanish rice recipe soon. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful story about your Grandma. I didn't know her well, but she sure produced a wonderful family.