The summer before I started Middle School (1981-ish but who’s counting) in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, my brother Ari and I had a babysitter. It wasn’t that we were babies per se, it was the we had just installed a swimming pool, and I’m pretty sure Mom and Pops didn't want us home alone that summer… with a pool.
That summer, our “Babysitter” Gayle Jordan Cordell, first introduced me to the wonder that is Spanish Rice.
I remember she pulled out a large cast iron skillet of my mother’s… cooked her onions and green peppers, added minute rice, tomato sauce, salt and pepper, and let it cook away. Well, I can say that we had Spanish Rice many times after that. Even after summer and into the fall, through junior high and high school. Then… we grew up a flew away, and Spanish Rice was no more.
Thirty years later (Tuesday actually), the memory of Gayle’s Spanish Rice hit me all of a sudden… and I was craving it.
So here’s my knock-off of the baby-sitter’s Spanish rice. Now, the great thing about this dish is that you don’t need to go old school and use the 50/50 ground meat or even the white minute rice. You can easily substitute ground turkey and brown rice if that’s how you roll. I would probably have more chicken stock handy for the brown rice and know that it will take longer to cook. Now if you’re temporarily out of my Barbacoa Seasoning, use chili powder, smoked Spanish paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
This is a great family friendly meal, taking it back old school to the late seventies and early eighties. I’m pretty sure there was whole milk to drink and sliced white bread shmeered with margarine from a tub to go along with the meal. Ahhhh my childhood.
Thanks Gayle for making that“Food Memory” for me. Yet another piece of the puzzle that built this chef.
Grapeseed oil for sautéing
1 cup yellow onion, diced
2 small Anaheim peppers, seeded and diced (about a cup)
2 cloves fresh garlic smashed and minced
2 pounds 80/20 ground sirloin (may use turkey too)
2 cups short grained rice (rinsed and drained until water is clear)
1-quart chicken stock
1 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3 rounded tablespoons In The Kitchen With Scotty “Barbacoa Seasoning”
1 tablespoon chili powder
salt and pepper to taste if needed
Shredded Manchego cheese, Cotija Mexican cheese, or Shredded jack cheese
chopped cilantro or chopped scallions
- In a heavy bottom skillet, iron skillet works great, begin heating a bit of the grapeseed oil. Once the oil shimmers add in the diced onion, peppers, and garlic. Cook until tender. Add the ground beef in batches to brown.
- Once all the ground meat has been browned drain off the excess fat. Sprinkle in the Barbacoa seasoning and chili powder; cook into the onion and meat mixture. To the pan, add the rinsed and drained white rice, then add the chicken stock. You need just enough stock to cover the rice. I find one-quart works, but if you need more add additional stock or even water.
- Stir in the crushed tomato. Give the mixture a good stir, taste for salt and pepper if needed, then cover and simmer gently on top of the stove. You’ll want to give it a nice mix from the bottom up as to not burn the bottom, so keep an eye on it. Probably about 30 minutes worth of cooking time.. just enough to cook the rice.
- Serve the Spanish Rice directly from the skillet by adding shredded cheese on top (I did a Manchego and Cotija blend) and then a good sprinkle of chopped cilantro. Chopped scallions work too if you aren't a cilantro lover.