Last week my friend Heather of the Kneady Homesteader Channel mentioned that she was having a hard time getting Spanish rice just right. This was not the first time she mentioned it to me. She likes to use the "Rice-a-Roni" brand of Spanish rice mix, but in an effort to get away from the box mixes and make her own, she was less than enthused about the outcome of several attempts. So I publicly promised to make her a video of how I do it.
This is that video. In my head I am humming the jingle, "Rice-A-Roni the San Francisco Treat, Rice-A-Roni the flavor can't be beat....." Well, you get the idea. According to their website: The DeDomenico family all enjoyed an old Armenian dish consisting of rice, vermicelli pasta and chicken broth. The rice and pasta were sauteed in butter before the liquid was added, giving the dish its distinctive taste.
In 1958, Vince DeDomenico decided to take this recipe and produce it for sale in grocery stores. He placed the rice and pasta in a box, and added a dry seasoning mix in place of the liquid chicken broth. Because this product was made up of half rice and half pasta, he decided to call it Rice-A-Roni.
Chicken Rice-A-Roni was first introduced in the northwestern states in 1958. With it came the first Rice-A-Roni commercial, featuring San Francisco’s Cable Cars and the now famous jingle. Created in San Francisco, Rice-A-Roni would soon be known to all as "The San Francisco Treat®!". Chicken RICE-A-RONI
The product was an immediate hit. Over the next couple of years, Rice-A-Roni spread across the United States and by 1962 was available for all of America to enjoy. Building on the success of the original Chicken flavor, several other varieties were added. Beef, Spanish and Fried Rice-A-Roni came along next and also became very popular.
Anyone who grew up in the 70's and 80's most likely ate this product and loved it. I know I did! My mom often put this out for a side dish at supper. Now that we are older and wiser, we are making an effort to move away from the processed, packaged, mixes of our youth and try to make those things from fresh, whole ingredients from our fridge and pantry. This is very simple to do and you are going to love it!
I admit that this one does have one small secret ingredient and that would be the tomato and chicken bullion that will give this dish the taste that I think Heather is missing from her package version. Aside from that, you already have what you need. Rice, broken angel hair or vermicelli pasta, onion, garlic, bell pepper, taco seasoning, canned tomatoes and butter. That's it! The other secret is in the preparation.
You can use butter like I have or you can use oil, of your choosing. I like to sautee the veggies just a little before adding the pasta and the rice. You will want to toast both of those until they take on a brown hue and emit a lovely nutty aroma. That is when you know it is time to move on, add your taco seasoning, broth and tomatoes. Give it a good stir and then cook like any other rice! Bring to a simmer, turn down the heat, cover and cook for 15 to 18 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Take off the heat and then allow to sit covered for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Then fluff with a fork and serve.
I used broken angel hair pasta and I could have broken it up even more. You can also choose to use some orzo pasta if you like, but I wanted to stick closely to the boxed version for this so the angel hair it was. You can also adjust the seasoning if you like by adding more or less. I have used my homemade taco seasoning, but you can use your favorite packet version.
I hope that you give this version of homemade Spanish style Rice-A-Roni and I hope Heather gives it a try and finds that it hits the mark for her! I really think that the tomato and chicken bullion is the secret here!
As always, I hope you try it and I hope you love it!
You can see how I made this in my YouTube video:
Spanish Style Rice-A-Roni
2 cups parcooked or long grain rice
1 cup broken angel hair or vermicelli pasta
1, 14 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup bell pepper, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups tomato and chicken broth
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
4 tablespoons butter
Step by Step Instructions
Melt butter in a large heavy bottomed skillet or stock pot over medium high heat.
Add onion, garlic and bell pepper. Stir well to coat.
Add rice and broken pasta to the pan and stir to coat.
Continue over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the pasta and the rice take on a nutty aroma and a slightly toasted appearance. You may hear popping during this process.
Add taco seasoning and stir well.
Add tomato chicken broth and tomatoes and stir well to combine.
Bring to a simmer, turn down to medium heat and cover. Cook for 15 to 18 minutes or until the majority of the liquid appears to have been absorbed. Do not remove the lid.
Turn off the heat and remove the pan to a cool burner or trivet. Allow to sit and steam for 10 to 15 minutes before fluffing and serving.
NOTE: I have used Knorr Caldo Tomate con sabor Pollo. Or Tomato broth with chicken. This bullion can usually be found in the Latin foods section of your grocery store. It has a red cap and is next to the chicken and beef bullions.