Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. This month’s theme is Tex-Mex Foods and is hosted by Milisa of Miss in the Kitchen. You’ll love all the recipes we are sharing that will be perfect for your next party! Make sure you check out the links below the recipe to get the full Tex-Mex progressive dinner menu!
I have traveled a lot in Texas and love the people and the expansiveness of the state. There are so many different areas, each with their own personality and cuisine. However, the overwhelming state favorite is barbecue, but not the kind of grilling most of us do in our backyards. There is the food cooked over charcoal or gas grills that most of us grew up eating, and then there is food cooked over a live wood fire by pros.
The habit of cooking over open fires became popular as the easiest way to serve the cowboys herding cattle from Texas up to Kansas. The Americans learned from the Mexican and South American gauchos, who always had mouthwatering foods cooking on their campfires. The chuckwagon was born and became integral to the emerging food scene in Texas. Today’s barbecue is still cooked over hardwoods, usually oak and pecan, which are readily available. Throughout Texas you can find barbecue in the back of a shop, alongside gas stations, in a trailer, or a true brick and mortar restaurant. These guys take their barbecue seriously! And it is truly marvelous to watch them at work.
While Milisa is making luscious chicken enchiladas for the main course, I wanted to try my hand at a favorite side dish. I have loved Mexican rice my enire life, reaching for that flavor when my mom went shopping for Rice-a-Roni. The richness of the tomatoes always made the rice taste better to me and because my mom seldom used any seasonings, this was exotic cuisine to my uneducated palate. 🙂
Whenever I see a recipe for Mexican rice, I stop and take a look, hoping to see something different and unique. I got the idea to take the flavors for this rice more to the Tex-Mex side from a recipe in my old copy of the Better Homes and Garden cookbook. In addition to the chili powder it calls for, I used some chili sauce along with the tomatoes and extra seasonings to give it a slight barbecue flavor, perfect to go alongside grilled and smoked meats.
If you want to make this vegetarian, it is simple. Leave out the bacon and use olive oil instead to sauté the vegetables and rice. A little smoked paprika will imitate the smokiness of the bacon and a touch of salt will balance the dish.
I hope you put this in your file to make soon. If you want to give it even more smoky goodness, grill the vegetables before adding them to the rice. And you can add jalapenos if you want more chile flavor and heat.
Honestly, I wanted to grab a cowboy hat and give a rebel yell when I tasted my first bite! I can’t wait for the leftovers that will be tomorrow’s lunch.
Have a fantastic week!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
One trick to rice that doesn’t get gummy and stick together is to use long grain rice, sauté it briefly in oil, coating all the grains, and don’t stir it as it is cooking. The less you touch it, the better. Pretty soon you will have perfect rice every time!
Heinz Chili Sauce is gluten-free in most areas of the world, just check the website if you live outside the United States. Applegate and Jones Dairy make gluten-free bacon; make sure you check with the manufacturer of other brands. Original Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce is gluten-free. It is always wise to read all the labels and refer to the producers website if you have any questions. And if there is still any doubt, leave it out!
- 1 (16 oz) can diced (not crushed) tomatoes with their liquid
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock**
- 1/2 cup of water**
- 1/2 cup prepared chili sauce, such as Heinz brand
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ancho chile powder
- 1 tsp oregano
- Dash of freshly ground black pepper
- 6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces* (gluten-free if needed)
- 1/2 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, stem and seeds discarded, diced
- 1 poblano pepper, stem and seeds discarded, diced
- 3/4 cup raw long-grain rice
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
- 1/4 cup frozen peas
- Minced green onions or chives, for garnish
- In a bowl, combine the tomatoes (with their juices), the water, salt, cumin, garlic powder, chile powder, oregano, and pepper. Stir to blend. Set aside.
- In a 10-inch skillet (one with a lid), over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy. Using tongs, transfer cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Return skillet to the heat and cook the onions, bell peppers, and poblanos in the bacon fat until tender but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add the rice to the skillet and cook for 1 minute, tossing to coat each grain of rice with the oil in the pan. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Pour tomato mixture over the rice. Make sure all ingredients are evenly distributed in the skillet. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to low, and simmer 40 to 50 minutes, or according to package directions. Sprinkle the peas over the top of the rice about 10 minutes before the end of cooking and replace the lid.
- Remove from the heat, leave the pan covered and let sit undisturbed for 5 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. To check to see if the liquid has been absorbed, push a wooden spoon into the center of the rice until touching the bottom of the pan, pull back the spoon and look for liquid in the bottom of the pan. If there is still a lot of liquid, put the rice back on the heat for another 3 to 5 minutes. Stir the peas into the rice and set aside for 5 minutes to heat them through, After the rice has rested, fluff with a fork to break up any clumps. Add half of the crumbled bacon and stir into the rice.
- Transfer to a serving dish, crumble remaining bacon on top, sprinkle on the green onions and serve hot.
- Yield: 4 to 6 servings
- * If you want to make a vegetarian version of this rice, substitute 3 tbsp of organic olive oil in place of the bacon. Add 1 tsp smoked paprika to get the smoky flavor and 1/2 tsp salt.
- ** Adjust the total liquid amount to match package directions; each type of rice had different ratios for rice:water.
Create a New Tradition Today!
This recipe is part of our monthly progressive dinner party, Progressive Eats. See the links below for more inspiration and great recipes!
- SpiceRoots – Sizzling Portobello Mushroom and Veggie Fajitas
- Miss in the Kitchen – Epic Creamy Chicken Enchiladas
- Life’s a Feast – Tex-Mex Savory Cheddar Madeleines with Olives & Tomato Tapenade
- Stetted – Homemade Tortillas
- Jeanette’s Healthy Living – Mexican Chopped Salad with Creamy Cilantro Lime Dressing
- Lana’s Cooking – Pinto Beans with Fresh Tomato Relish
- Barbara Bakes – Frozen Virgin Strawberry Margarita
Welcome to another edition of Progressive Eats, our virtual version of a progressive dinner party. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.
We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.
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