Cooking Ahead
I am now ready to post the recipe for the previous post “Rice & Beans”.  I wanted to go over the procedure for not only cooking the food but packaging it as well.  
So let’s discuss the rice recipe first.  I usually cook two cups at a time.  Obviously it would depend on how many people in your family you cook for.  So to make 3 cups cooked rice you will need the following:
If using long grain brown rice: 1 cup dry needs 2 cups water and 45 minutes to cook.  It will yield 2 1/4 to 3 cups cooked rice.
Long Grain White Rice: 1 cup dry needs 2 cups water and 20 to 25 minutes to cook.  This will yield 3 cups rice.  
Lite Mexican Rice
2 cups long grain white rice
1 tablespoon canola oil                                                    
1 medium onion, chopped
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
Mexican Seasoning (see picture) or
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 1/2 cups water or chicken broth
Bijol seasoning (gives the rice a nice color)
peas (optional)
Heat a large stainless steel sauce pot.  Add oil and saute the onions for about 2 minutes.  Rinse the rice a couple of times and drain well.  Add the rice to the onions and saute until the rice looks a little chalky.  If the mixture looks too dry use a vegetable spray instead of adding more oil.  This will help brown it.  
When the rice gets “toasty” looking, add the water and diced tomatoes including the juice, seasoning, salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes (no peaking).  After 20 minutes you can check the rice.  Give it a taste.  If done, remove the cover and fluff with a fork.  This will help remove the steam so your rice doesn’t get sticky.  Add the peas if using when the rice is completely cooled down.  You don’t want them to defrost if you are freezing the rice.
I spread the rice on a cooking sheet and keep turning with a spatula to cool it down.  Once it is cooled to room temperature I bag it.  Be sure and name and date the package.  I use a heavy duty freezer bag.  Be sure the rice is completely cooled before freezing or it will develop ice crystals.  
To reheat, just remove from the freezer and place in a bowl of cold water for about 20 minutes or remove from the baggie and microwave it a few minutes.  
There are of course many versions of Mexican Rice.  This is just one of the ways I make it.  You can also use tomato sauce in place of the tomatoes or fresh tomatoes and green bell pepper.
Cooking Ahead
Saturday, February 10, 2007