Serves: Makes 4 servings
- 2 tomatoes, peeled
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or lard
- ½ cup chopped white onion
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- 1½ cups long-grain white rice (not parboiled)
- 2 cups boiling water or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup slivered or shredded queso Chihuahua or other semisoft melting cheese (such as mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or Muenster)
Procedures:The secret to tender, shimmering individual rice grains is to coat them thoroughly with hot fat before adding the tomatoes and broth. If you’re using a baking dish that can’t be put directly on a burner, start the recipe in a skillet and then transfer the contents to a baking dish, or use a braiser. Use a serrated peeler to peel the tomatoes, or peel them as described in the sidebar on page 305. Serve the rice with roasted chicken or other meats or with fish.
- Preheat a stove-top pepper roaster or a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a broiler. Char the skins of the chiles, turning the chiles as needed with tongs, for 10 to 15 minutes, until evenly blackened and blistered. Place the charred chiles in a bowl, cover with aluminum foil or plastic wrap, and let stand for about 20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle and the skins have loosened. Rub the charred skins off the cooled chiles with your fingertips, or use the tip of a small knife. Rinse with water, then slit each chile along its length and open it flat. Cut out and discard the stem and scrape away the seeds and white membranes with the tip of a spoon. Coarsely chop the chiles. Set aside.
- Halve the tomatoes and gently squeeze over a bowl or the sink to remove the juice and seeds. Coarsely chop the flesh and add to the chiles. Set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Heat the oil in a 9-inch terra-cotta baking dish on a heat diffuser or in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, decrease the heat to low, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Stir in the cumin and toast in the hot oil for 30 seconds. Add the rice and sauté, stirring, for 5 minutes, or until some of the grains appear to be a different color than the others.
- Add the reserved chiles and tomatoes and stir to blend. If using a large skillet, transfer the mixture to a lightly oiled 1½- to 2-quart baking dish. Add the boiling water and the salt and smooth the rice with a rubber spatula or the back of a spoon. Cover tightly (use aluminum foil if you don't have a cover or lid) and bake for 15 minutes. Uncover and scatter the cheese evenly on top. Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes more, or until the cheese is melted and all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.