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Old 09-10-2003, 10:59 PM
A1 WBarfieldsr
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There are many versions of special-occasion green rice in Mexico. My
current favorite is this one, green with the richness and welcoming
spiciness of poblano chiles, backed up by herbal cilantro and sweet onion
and garlic. This full-flavored rice can accompany a simple grilled fish or
chicken or any dish that weaves a little green chile into its sauce.
The rice is made pilaf style, like most Mexican rices, meaning that the raw
rice is fried first so that the grains will be separate when cooked.
Dependable as that method is, this rice comes out a touch sticky because of
all the poblano pureed into the broth. I make it ahead, spread it onto a
baking sheet to cool and allow excess moisture to evaporate, so the rice
will fluff up into separate grains. Then I reheat it in a steamer.

1 2/3 cups chicken broth or water
2 fresh poblano chiles, stems and seeds removed, and roughly chopped
12 sprigs cilantro, plus extra for garnish
Salt, about 1/2 teaspoon if using salted broth, 1 teaspoon if using
unsalted or water
1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
1 cup rice, preferably medium grain
1 small white onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
5 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

The flavoring: In a 2-quart saucepan, combine the broth and chiles, bring
to a boil, then partially cover and simmer gently over medium to medium-low
heat for about 10 minutes, until the chiles are very soft. Pour the chile
mixture into a food processor, add the cilantro (stems and all), and
process to a smooth puree. Press through a medium-mesh strainer into a bowl
and stir in the salt.

The rice: Wipe the pan clean, add the oil and heat over medium. Add the
rice and onion, and cook, stirring regularly, until the rice is chalky
looking and the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook
a minute longer.

Add the warm (or reheated) chile liquid to the hot rice pan, stir once,
scrape down any rice kernels clinging to the side of the pan, cover, and
cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Uncover and check a grain of
rice: It should be nearly cooked through. If the rice is just about ready,
turn off the heat, re-cover and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes longer to
complete the cooking. If the rice seems far from done, continue cooking for
5 minutes or so, retest, then turn off the heat and let stand a few minutes
longer. Fluff with a fork, scoop into a warm serving dish, decorate with
cilantro sprigs and it's ready to serve.

Advance preparation: The rice can be made several days ahead; turn out the
fluffed rice onto a baking sheet to cool, transfer to a storage container,
then cover and refrigerate. Reheat the rice in a steamer basket set over
boiling water.

Variations and improvisations: An obvious variation is to use 3 or 4 long
green (Anaheim) chiles, or to mix poblanos and long greens with hotter
chiles like jalapeño, manzano or habanero. Grilled corn cut from 1 cob or 1
large grilled zucchini (cubed) are tasty vegetable add-ins. About 1 cup
coarsely shredded roast (or barbecued) pork or smoked salmon, mixed in
toward the end of cooking, will make green rice a full meal.

Makes 4 servings.

Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen
Rick Bayless

William Barfieldsr

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