Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Mexican Side Dishes: Red Rice and Guacamole

Mexican is one of my all time favorite meals and I love yummy sides to go along with them. I found this red rice recipes in a Mexican cookbook that has become a staple and the guacamole recipe was a Tyler Florence recipe that I tweaked some. Printable recipes are at the very bottom if needed.

I made some Salsa Chicken to go along with these sides in the crockpot and it's super easy.

Step 1-Put frozen chicken in your crockpot
Step 2-Dump salsa to amply cover your chicken
Step 3-Turn on low and walk away for 8-10 hours. Return to crockpot after said 8-10 hours, take chicken out, shred, add back in as much juice as needed. Done!

So easy! Great for chicken tacos, filling for burritos, quesadillas. I cooked too much salsa chicken so I just froze the leftovers (foodsaver=awesome!) and we like to use when we run out of time and need a quick dinner or when I just don't feel like cooking.

My red rice is much, much better than the crappy kind you get served at most Mexican restaurants. This guacamole recipe we've been using for almost 3 years. Once again, good homemade guacamole can't be beat and this is a good one! If you haven't ever made it except with a powdered mix you'll be hooked. We use the powdered mix (produce partners IS THE BEST powdered mix) sometimes as well, but it can't beat homemade. Please, please, please do not buy already made guacamole from the store. It really is super gross - in my humble opinion! I can't even stomach the stuff.

What sets my red rice apart from other recipes is using Ancho Chile pepper. It really isn't too spicy and adds a nice smokiness. A fresh ancho is referred to as a poblano pepper.

The Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil - can use peanut oil or lard as well
1 medium onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup uncooked rice
2 small tomatoes, preferably roma or Italian plum, chopped or 1/3 cup drained, chopped canned tomatoes
2 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock - I always make mine with chicken stock
1 tablespoon ground ancho or New Mexican chile pepper (mild chile)*
¾ teaspoon salt

*Please find a mild chile pepper if you don't have ancho. I really think it's a good investment especially if you eat a lot of Mexican like I do. When I started looking for it a few years ago, I couldn't find it in the regular grocery store, but did find one eventually in a fancy store. Since then I found Penzey's and use theirs all the time and it is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S. You can order it online at

Do not think you can substitute straight across chile pepper. It will be way too hot, if that's all you have, I would cut it way back.

Heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until softened.

*Side note. I used to think that if I didn't soften my onion enough at the beginning that it would be ok because the rest of the cooking process would soften the onion. I have found out through lots of trial and error that it usually isn't the case. The onion needs to be softened at the beginning for this rice or all you'll taste is onion and it will be overpowering. My point is, take the time to always soften your onion and you won't regret it.

Add the rice and tomatoes and sauté for another couple of minutes, stirring to coat all the grains of rice with oil.

Pour in the stock, sprinkle in the chile and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook the rice for 15-18 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed.

Remove the pan from the heat and let the rice steam, for 5-10 minutes.

This picture is right after taking off the lid after it was done steaming. Most if not all the liquid should be gone. If you are not serving right away then transfer to another bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.

Fluff and serve. So good!

Homemade Guacamole
6 ripe avocados
3 limes, juiced - use real limes, lime juice from a bottle doesn't cut it
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, smashed then minced
2 serrano chiles, finely chopped - optional to leave the seeds or not
1 big handful fresh cilantro, about 1/2 cup finely chopped

This recipe yields about 4 cups. Unless we have a big crowd over we usually halve this.

Halve and pit the avocados. Scoop out the flesh into a mixing bowl. Mash the avocados, leaving them still a bit chunky.

Cut off the tips of your serranos and then halve them. The more seeds you leave in the hotter the guacamole will be. We usually leave in seeds of 1 chile, but if you don't know your heat take them all out and you can adjust next time.

Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after handling any chiles. They have oils on them that burn your eyes or nostrils and we've had mishaps on more than 1 occasion. If you are nervous about handling them, buy some non powdered plastic gloves and throw them away after handling.

Finely dice your chiles - see how little they are? The original recipe says to cut them in rounds, but I like my ingredients to be nicely chopped so they meld together well.

Same with the red onion. See how nice and small that dice is? Then you are biting into huge chunks of onion and having nasty onion breath - just nice guacamole breath instead.

Isn't fresh cilantro the best smelling stuff ever?

Add the remaining ingredients and fold everything together. Drizzle with a little olive oil, adjust seasoning with S&P and give it 1 final mix with a fork.

Lay a piece of plastic wrap tight on the surface of the guacamole so it doesn’t brown and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

We have found that if we have any leftover and want to use the next day either sprinkle with a little lime juice and immediately cover with plastic wrap on the surface or we use our foodsaver and suck the air out. We've even used that guacamole 4 days later after cutting open our food saver pouch and it tastes and looks like we just made it. Contact with the air is what makes guacamole look and taste gross.

Another trick - just scrape off the top layer of brown if you get it and it will be nice and green underneath. I did that on Monday (we made it Saturday) with leftovers and it was still delicious!

Red Rice Printable Recipe
Guacamole Printable Recipe


  1. Make sure you FINELY chop that onion! I always remember Jordan telling me that when we made guacamole at your house. Thanks for the red rice recipe. I just placed an order with Penzey's so now I'll have to wait to load up again before I order the chile pepper. It sure will be nice when they have a store closer to where I live!

  2. We were the lucky recipients of these wonderful side dishes and I can honestly say they tasted amazing. Thanks for sharing!!