Bryan’s Super Spanish Rice and the Blue Mesa Grill

Posted on June 29, 2008. Filed under: Favorite Recipes |

Monday, January 21, 2008– Instead of a recipe today (I will give out a recipe later this week, I promise!) I want to tell you about a wonderful dining experience we had yesterday. A friend of ours from Shanghai, China came in to town this week and he came to Sunday School and church with us at Redeemer Church. William is a professor at Fudan University in Shanghai (go to my blogroll and click on the link to International Institute for Christian Studies) and he and I served together in ministry for several years. So after church we and some more friends all went out to lunch. William requested some Tex-Mex so we went to what is likely my favorite restaurant in Fort Worth, The Blue Mesa Grill.

The Blue Mesa is a unique place that specializes in the use of corn in a lot of their dishes. They also pack some serious pepper heat in a lot of their dishes, so be forewarned. On Sundays they have a brunch that, though a little pricey at $18.95, is worth it. Absolutely the best all-u-can-eat brunch in Fort Worth! They have an omelet bar where they will make it to order as you watch, but yesterday I didn’t do the omelette. I focused on the adobe pies, spanish rice, black beans and enchiladas, and of course, the chips and salsa. I go to Blue Mesa for the chips. They have sweet potato chips that are to die for! Add some corn cake and some garlic grilled veggies and I was stuffed after two plates and 1 bowl of chips.

My friend Donnie and his family had never been there and that surprised me because usually it is Donnie telling me about good restaurants. He loved it, William, the guest of honor loved it (but last time he was in town I took him Blue Mesa, but it was at night, not Sunday brunch.)

If you are ever in Fort Worth I strongly urge you to try the Blue Mesa Grill!

Thursday, January 17, 2008– “Bryan’s Super Spanish Rice”

How many times have you been to a Mexican restaurant, and ordered a wonderful meal, but the Spanish Rice was just plain boring? I always just mixed it in with the refried beans and added some salsa and ate it, but it wasn’t anything special. Now I love rice, I could eat rice everyday. I have written about my love for brown whole grain rice in this column before (see cabbage rolls below), but the Spanish Rice in the restaurants was boring me to tears. Therefore, I decided to do something about this dish that had so much potential. I started making this Super Spanish Rice about a year ago and now it is one of the Walker family staples. I make it about once a month, and have now even dared to take it to a church Christmas party where it was well received. This Spanish Rice is so hearty that it can stand alone as a full meal, but we usually use it as a side dish with tamales, burritos, enchiladas or fajitas. First I will give you the recipe then I will tell you how I use it in my lunch at work.

Fry 4-5 slices of bacon in a 5-6 quart pan, but cut the bacon up into small pieces, no bigger than about 1/2 inch or about the size of nickle. Be careful to not overcook the bacon.
Chop up several of the baby, peeled carrots. I use a lot of carrots here, when I am done chopping them into dime sized pieces I have about a full dinner plate 1 layer deep. I throw these carrots in with the frying bacon.

Next I add 2 cups of whole grain brown rice and stir that into the frying bacon and carrots.

While that mixture is frying I chop up a whole bulb of garlic. Some pieces I chop big and others I chop fine, some of the smaller cloves I throw in whole. Do not add the garlic yet, let it sit out, add it last.

As I chop the garlic I will frequently stir the rice, bacon and carrots, not wanting anything to burn. Then I will add the water. I think the bag of rice calls for 2 1/2 cups of water per cup of rice. Do not add that much! For 2 cups of rice add no more than 3 cups of water. More liquid will be added soon, and you can watch it to see if you want to add more water later. I don’t want the rice to be too soggy, I like it a bit more firm, almost chewy. Whole grain rice has a different texture than white rice which is one reason I like it.

Now you can start spicing the rice up. I add about a half tsp of cayenne, a tablespoon of cilantro, a half tsp of black pepper and another of salt. Sometimes I add some Liquid Smoke, but be careful to not overdo it, just a few drops is sufficient. I sprinkle in about 1/4 tsp of paprika.
At this point I will chop up a jalapeño pepper very small and throw that into the rice.

Now I will open up a can of whole corn, I like the mixed corn with white and yellow, and toss that in with the water from the can. Next I will add 1 small can of tomato sauce and 1 can of diced tomatoes.

Now I am back to the chopping block as I cut up a bell pepper into thumbnail sized pieces and an onion (either red, my favorite, or a yellow onion) and toss the pepper and onion into the mix. I like my veggies a little bit chunkier than a lot of people so I don’t slice them up too small. Finally, I add the garlic slices. Sometimes I will add a can of black olives, drained and halved.

Just let this big pot of rice, bacon and veggies cook down, you need to watch it and see if you need to add any more water, but I sure don’t want soupy spanish rice. You can vary the spicey heat of this hearty dish by being careful with the jalapeno, tasting it first to see if it is too hot, or varying the amount of cayenne pepper.

This is a wonderful and healthy meal. Even though it has bacon and all the grease in it, using only 4-5 slices of bacon keeps the fat level down. The rest is pure natural goodness of whole grain rice and plenty of veggies.

How to use the leftover rice: when I first make a pot it is as a side dish for a full Mexican dinner. But the succeeding days I use the leftovers this way:

1) Get some warmed whole wheat tortillas, plop a big spoonful of the rice in the middle, add either some Wolf Brand Chili, some Queso, or make some bacon gravy and add the gravy to it. You have not lived til you have had a Super Spanish Rice Burrito with Bacon Gravy!

2) Open up a can of black beans and add some beans to a big bowl of Super Spanish Rice and that is a meal unto itself.

The total time for making this dish is about an hour to an hour and a half. It is a lot of work chopping up the bacon and all those veggies, but this is one of the Walker family favorites.



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    This blog exists to study the bi-vocational ministry, explore the Bible & Theology, and look at current events, history and other world religions through scripture, and have fun doing it!


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