Thursday, January 6, 2011

Grandma Tita's Spanish Rice

{eating dinner off our laps because there's no room left at the table}

My mom asked me to make the Spanish rice this year to go along with our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of tamales, enchiladas and beans, and I thought it would be a perfect little recipe to share with you all.  It’s a side dish my Grandma Tita (short for Sistita) made just about every week, and now I make it quite often as well.  It reminds me of what I imagine to be a time when we were not all trying to be Martha Stewart in the kitchen, or fit all the fixings of a meal into one skillet.  A time when women were just trying to get a good meal on the table without breaking the bank. 

Subsequently, it also reminds me of how ethnically confused I was as a child.  I’m Irish by way of my dad, with the maiden name of Fogarty, and Spanish by way of my mom.  By way of a move to Los Angeles in her late twenties, my maternal Grandmother started cooking primarily Mexican food, and I can’t recall a single Spanish dish she ever made.  I grew up on tacos, enchiladas, cocido & pozole, and rice & beans.  Parties on my dad’s side of the family were subdued and only got the least bit rowdy when Aunt Glory would play hymns on the piano.  Parties on my mom’s side of the family, which included extended family who actually were Latino, were not complete without mariachis and maybe a cholo or two.  

My confusion was not helped by the fact that I grew up in Whittier, in the part of town with a large Latino population.  My best friends were Rachel Morales and Desiree Grajeda.  They would laugh and call me gringa when I would talk about being Mexican, because at that age I still didn’t understand the difference between a Spaniard and someone from Mexico; call me geographically challenged.  In Junior High, when most innocence was lost, other girls who were not so nice called me huera, which I did not appreciate.  I was sure that if they would just come to my house and have some of my Grandma Tita’s Spanish rice and pozole, I would gladly be accepted into the fold and racial divides would be conquered.  That’s how simply yummy I think this rice is.  By High School things settled down and I found my niche.  While I was no longer geographically challenged, I was completely baffled that my grandmother never taught me to speak Spanish.  Not only would I have had an advantage in Mr. G’s Spanish class, but I would've at least had some street cred growing up.   
 {Spanish rice - it looks very orange doesn't it?}
This rice isn't just super yummy, it’s also ridiculously easy to make, cooking up in just under 20 minutes or so.  It has the similar flavor to the rice you will get at most Mexican restaurants, but much less greasy and much moister.  Had enough of my babbling and reminiscing over painful Jr. High memories?  Okay then, the recipe is your reward for reading.  P.S. if you’re interested, you can find a couple more of my Grandma’s recipes here and here.
 {happy onions}
 {yes, I keep my rice in a Folger's tin.  What of it?  Old family tradition I guess}

Grandma Tita’s Spanish Rice (serves 4-6):
1 cup white rice
¼ of a medium onion, chopped – optional
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups water
½ - ¾ canned tomato sauce
Heat oil in a large skillet and sauté onions for 2-3 minutes.  Add rice and cook until slightly browned, about 3-5 minutes, stirring often as not to brown.  Add tomato sauce (watch out, it will sizzle) and stir in water.  Add salt and pepper and cover with lid.  Lower heat to low and gently simmer for about 15 – 18 minutes.  You know your rice is done when the water has been completely absorbed.  Crazy easy, right? 

*Here’s a little note about the rice.  My mom uses 2 ½ cups of water but I have found this to make the rice too soggy.  I prefer to use less water (2 cups), and if need be, add in a bit more water towards the end of cooking if the water is almost completely absorbed but the rice is not completely cooked.  Make sense?  I think my way is better, and I think my mom would agree but is just too stubborn to admit it and change the official recipe.  She did ask me to make the rice on Christmas Eve after all though, didn’t she?


  1. can't wait to make this! looks amazing...thanks for sharing.

    are the beans a family recipe too? THEY LOOK MOUTH WATERING. please share!
    love your blog!

  2. hey erika! love you girl!!!

    and love you Andrea!
    this looks yummy and i think i will add the ingredients to my grocery list for next year! thanks!

  3. I love every thing about this post and think it really could be about ME! I'm mixed too! And baby all my Mexican family get togethers are littered with cholos...duh my cousins come!

  4. Yum, I love when you post recipes! This one, I am super excited to make! Hope it will turn out as beautiful as yours. Happy new year!

  5. Yum! I think I will have to be making Mexican this week! Thanks for the recipe :)


Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a comment. I read and appreciate every single one. If you enable your email address I'd love to respond :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...