By Pati’s Mexican Table 

Pati travels to Mexico City to reconnect with her father and help him cook one of her favorite childhood meals: Huevos a la Mexicana. Back in her own kitchen, she’ll use that visit as inspiration to cook a few dishes that she remembers fondly from childhood, and then pass on the tradition by cooking dessert with her youngest son Juju.

MEXICAN RICE WITH PRAWNS

Arroz Rojo con Camarones Gigantes

Serves 6 to 8

INGREDIENTS

For the rice:

– 2 cups long- or extra-long-grain white rice or jasmine rice
– 1 pound ripe tomatoes, quartered
– 1/3 cup roughly chopped white onion
– 2 garlic cloves
– 1 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
– 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
– 3 cups chicken broth, or canned chicken or vegetable broth, or enough to make 4 cups total liquid including the strained tomato puree, see step 2 below
– 2 parsley sprigs
– 3/4 cup carrots, peeled and diced, optional
– 1/2 cup shelled green peas, fresh or frozen, optional
– 1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen, optional
– 1 whole jalapeño or serrano chile, optional
– 6 to 8 head on prawns
– Half a lime, optional

DIRECTIONS

Soak the rice in a bowl of hot water to cover for about 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear; drain well. If you don’t have time to soak and drain the rice, you can skip this step…

In a blender or food processor, purée the tomatoes along with the onion, garlic and salt until thoroughly smooth. Pass through a strainer into a measuring cup and reserve. In another measuring cup, add enough chicken broth to make altogether 4 cups of liquid, but keep the two measuring cups separated.

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan or casserole, over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add the drained rice and cook, stirring often, until the rice becomes milky white and feels heavy in the pan as you stir, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Pour in the strained tomato purée, mix gently and cook until the color of the purée darkens, thickens, and is mostly absorbed, about 3 to 4 more minutes. Stir in the pre-measured chicken broth and add the parsley, carrots, peas, corn and whole chile, if using.

Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat, lay the head on prawns, squeeze the juice of half a lime all over if using, cover, and reduce to the lowest setting. Cook until most of the liquid has been absorbed, yet there is still some moisture in the pan. The rice should be cooked and tender; if not, but the liquid is totally absorbed, add a couple tablespoons of water, cover again, and continue to cook for a couple more minutes.

Remove from the heat and let the rice rest, covered, for at least 5 minutes before you fluff with a fork and serve.

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