every time i get a new cookbook, i will curl up with it that evening like i would a novel and look through it, reading the introduction, the contents, the entries, marking a few recipes that i want to make soon. i love to get a feel for the food inside of it, scanning the food styling and photographs, and letting my mouth water. so the last time i was at the bookstore, my eyes landed on tacolicious, this gorgeous cookbook by the chef at a popular san francisco eatery of the same name. the book is beautifully photographed and the design of it made me immediately pick it up. i only had to flip through it and see all of its mexican food loveliness and i was sold. or rather it was. to me. i have not had the cookbook very long, but i have already made a ton of recipes from it – and i highly recommend it. their rice recipe is my favorite so far – boldly seasoned and perfectly fluffy, after sautéing and then baking in the oven. comes out perfect every time. this makes quite a bit, so for a family night in, i would halve this recipe. but if you are hosting the neighborhood’s taco tuesday fiesta, you will have plenty.
baked mexican rice with cilantro + garlic
adapted from tacolicious by sara deseran
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 16-oz bag long grain white rice (about 2 cups)
2 1/3 cups water
1 cup canned tomato puree
2 tsp dried cilantro (or oregano)
1 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf
2 tsp coarse sea salt
a few grinds of freshly cracked pepper
1. preheat the oven to 350.
2. heat the oil in a large oven-safe pot, covered, over medium heat. add in the onion and saute for 3-4 minutes. add the garlic and cook another minute more, until onion is translucent. reduce heat to medium-low, then add the rice and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently until rice has browned.
3. add the water, tomato puree, cilantro (or oregano), cumin, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. stir to combine and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. cover, transfer pot to the oven, and bake for 40 minutes, until liquid has been absorbed and rice is tender.
4. remove from the oven and allow to cool, first with the cover on, then remove and let cool a bit more. fluff with a fork and serve warm.