This recipe came to me after I fell into an obsession with arroz con leche. Arroz con leche is, essentially, Mexican rice pudding. There are some variants where it is made with sweetened condensed milk, but I prefer the simpler and less sweet version of just rice cooked in milk with spices and then lightly sweetened with a bit of sugar. That recipe is available on the website or in the cookbook and is not only one of my favorite desserts, I also feel totally comfortable calling it one of my favorite breakfasts as well.
While perfecting my arroz con leche, and eating it nearly every day, it struck me that I ought to try using the same technique in a savory context. In this dish, the same silkiness of a rice pudding is infused with broth, spices, and a bit of cheese, creating a really excellent side dish or starch on which to rest a beautiful protein.
My favorite way to eat this dish, which I call Tex-Mex risotto, is with some charred or grilled peppers and onions and a thinly-sliced grilled or seared piece of chicken. Absolutely delicious.
If those additions sound like a lot of work, or you’re of the vegetarian persuasion, you can just add a can of beans at the end and you have a delightful bowl of comfort. Hope you like it!
1 cup rice
1 cup water
2 cups milk
2 cups vegetable broth
2 roasted poblanos, peeled and diced
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp chili powder
½ tsp garlic powder
4 oz. sharp cheddar (or other sharp cheese), grated
Juice of 1 lime (~2 tbsp)
1 can black beans (optional)
salt + pepper, to taste
Put rice in a large pot and add roughly 1 cup water, just enough to barely cover the rice. Turn heat to medium-high and cook until the water is nearly absorbed, stirring regularly to keep the rice from sticking to the bottom.
Reduce heat to medium and add the diced poblanos and spices.
Begin adding the broth ½ cup at a time. Cook until mostly absorbed and then add the next ½ cup. Continue to stir regularly and scrape the bottom through these additions, as the rice will stick.
When the broth is done, continue the process with the milk, adding it in ½ cup increments and stirring and scraping regularly.
After the last of the milk has been added, cook until it is largely absorbed and try your rice. It should be nicely cooked, perhaps slightly al dente, with a little bit of bite left. If it is not yet cooked to your liking, add a touch more broth and continue cooking until it reaches your desired consistency.
When the rice is perfect, remove the pot from heat and add in your grated cheese and lime juice. Stir to allow the cheese to melt and mix in.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If you are eating this as a standalone dish, you can mix in a can of black beans and enjoy a bowl. Should serve 2-4 depending on how hungry you are.
This dish also makes a great base for charred onions and bell peppers and grilled chicken or beef.