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Mexican White Rice with Plantains

By 4:26 PM , , ,

How excited can you get about rice, right? Wrong. So, so, wrong. Trust me, I'm not a huge rice person. The Husband on the other hand loves him so brown rice, white rice, jasmine rice - you name it, and the man would add it to just about any meal.  But when I came across this Rick Bayless recipe in his Fiesta at Rick's, I was intrigued.

I first mustered up the courage to try plantains in St. Maarten. This was really a feat for me because despite being an adventurous eater, I hate (HATE) bananas. Long story short, I realized that tostones (fried plantains) are pretty darn tasty.  So a rice that incorporated plantains? Yes, sir, I'll try that!

While this definitely has more steps than your simple every day rice, it tastes about a thousand times better! This jazzed up rice was a huge hit with everyone at my daughter's birthday party! The rice has a slightly crunchy exterior due to the frying which marries well with the crispy outside of the plantains. The inside of the plantains are soft and creamy. The rice carries extra flavor from the chicken broth (as opposed to cooking in plain water) and the onion imparts a great, slightly sweet bite.

If your looking for a side dish to feed a lot of people that is filling and still manages to impress, this definitely fits the bill!

A few notes:
- I halved this recipe and it fed 12 people with leftovers.
- The Husband and I have a general aversion to fresh parsley, so we skipped that part.
- I used a Vidalia onion - I think sweeter onions really play well in this and would encourage anyone making this to do the same.

Mexican White Rice with Plantains

6 cups chicken broth
3 cups vegetable oil (I like to use oil that’s especially refined for high-heat cooking)
4 large (about 2 1/2 pounds total) soft, black-ripe plantains, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 cups white rice, preferably medium-grain
2 large (1 pound total) white onions, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
8 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
~3/4 cup (loosely packed) roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Heat the broth. Turn on the oven to 350°.  Measure the broth into a large (4-quart) saucepan.  Add 1 tablespoon of salt , if you are using salted broth, 2 tablespoons if you’re using unsalted broth.  Cover and set over medium-low heat.

Fry the plantains. In a very large (9-quart) Dutch oven (or comparable soup pot), heat the oil over medium to medium-high.  When the oil is quite hot (but not smoking), add the plantains and fry, breaking apart any clumps until the plantains are a rich golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon or wire skimmer to remove the plantain cubes to paper towels to drain.

Fry the rice. Set up a large strainer over a metal bowl; set beside the stove on a heat-resistant surface. With the pan of oil still over the heat, raise the heat to high and add the rice.  Stir regularly until the rice has turned from translucent to milky white (but not begun to brown), about 10 minutes.  Immediately (and carefully) pour the rice and oil into the strainer, making sure to get all the rice out of the pan.  Clean off any drips on the outside of the pan.

Cook the rice. Without washing the pan, set it over medium heat.  If there isn’t a generous coating of oil on the bottom, spoon a little of the strained oil back into the pot.  Add the onion and cook, stirring regularly, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute.  Add the rice and broth.  Stir several times through all parts of the pan, making sure to scrape down any rice grains that are clinging to the sides above the liquid.  Cover and place in the oven.  After 30 minutes uncover and test a grain of rice:  if it’s still a little chalky in the center and it’s clear that all the liquid has been absorbed, drizzle about 1/4 cup of water over the rice, re-cover and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Serve the rice. When the rice is ready, sprinkle the fried plantains and chopped parsley over the top and gently fold them in—if you’re careful and stir all the way to the bottom, you’ll release a lot of steam, which will stop the rice from overcooking.

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