Mexican Stir Fry

Printable version
Rice has been cultivated for more than 7,000 years. Archeologist in China have even unearthed rice-filled pots dating as far back as 8,000 B.C.

Today, it’s a dietary staple for half of the world’s population and is grown in two ways. Aquatic rice, or paddy-grown, is raised in flooded fields. Hill-grown, which yields less and is lower quality, can grow nearly anywhere in a tropical environment.

Rice is classified commercially by its length and comes in short, medium and long grain varieties. As a general rule, shorter rice means more starch, and therefore more sticky when cooked and ready to serve.

I prefer less-sticky long grain rice because it clumps less. I usually make it plain to add to a recipe or to serve something over it. For this recipe, I wanted the rice to stand alone as a side with a Mexican flavor. To do that I create a chili-seasoned base before adding any liquid. It’s then boiled and covered. This allows the rice to drink up all of the yummy flavors while it hydrates and softens in the pot.

Mexican Stir Fry

I made the rice and featured it in the print version of my column and it ran with the introduction above. I didn’t have enough room in print for the entire stir fry recipe so I went with just the rice. I have been doing that a lot lately. I’m looking for ways to do more complex recipes for the web and using parts or simplified versions for the print column. It kills two birds with one stone.

That said ... the Mexican stir fry was a fun twist on the traditional Asian flavored classic, and it was a tasty meal. I used fresh corn that I sliced off the cob, which was a task. It was tasty and I’m glad I used it but with so many flavors in the mix, canned corn would have probably saved time without much sacrifice in flavor. Canned corn is much closer to the fresh stuff than green beans and many other canned vegetables.

The chipotle sauce I used is a go-to sauce that I get in the world food isle at the grocery. Had I been insanely ambitious with this recipe I would have made a homemade version, but sometimes you just have to say enough is enough – and I had just cut fresh corn off the cob – until the Food Network or Martha Stewart is payin' me big bucks for these recipes I'm just gonna have to use some ingredients from a can or jar!

Eat well, cook often ...

Mexican Stir Fry

Serves 6 to 8; 35 minutes
1 C Onion diced
1/2 C Jalapeño seeded, diced
1 Tbs Garlic minced
1 Tbs Chili powder
2 tsp Cumin
1 tsp Oregano
2 C Rice
4 C Water
2 lbs Chicken thighs, boneless, skinless
2 C Yellow corn
1 C Poblano pepper, seeded, chopped
1/2 C Chipotle sauce
Cilantro for garnish

Sauté vegetables
In a soup pot over medium heat sauté onion and jalapeño in a little olive oil until soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Toast spices, rice
Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano and rice. Stir until well combined, let mixture toast for 2 minutes or until fregrant.

Finish rice
Add water, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes, remove from heat but keep covered for 10 minutes more. Remove lid, fluff with a fork.

Make stir 
Fry While rice finishes, in a wok or skillet heated to medium-high brown chicken in a little olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. When chicken is just cooked through, add corn, poblano and chipotle sauce. Cook until vegetables are soft, six to 8 minutes more. Adjust seasoning, serve over rice.

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