Pati Jinich's Tips For Making Flavorful Mexican Rice - Exclusive

Pati Jinich is a seasoned Mexican chef currently helming the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C., a celebrated cookbook author of "Mexican Today", "Pati's Mexican Table", and "Treasures of the Mexican Table", and the James Beard Award-winning television host of the series "Pati's Mexican Table" and "La Frontera". "Pati's Mexican Table" is currently entering its 12th season with an exploration of Yucatán in southeastern Mexico. In an exclusive interview with Tasting Table, Jinich shared her cultural relationship to cooking, the unique culinary flavors of Yucatán, and some tips for making simple, but delicious Mexican meals at home. 

Rice is a universal grain that is foundational to Mexican cooking. Jinich believes it's a tremendously versatile ingredient that can be transformed into the centerpiece of a meal with the inclusion of smoked meats, served as a nourishing and flavorful side dish, or repurposed as a breakfast topping the following morning. According to Jinich one of the most important things to remember when preparing rice is "choosing where the rice will cook because rice is like a blank canvas."

The cooking liquid is the key to the rice's flavor

For flavorful Mexican rice, Jinich stresses the importance of carefully choosing the liquid you prepare it in because "the rice soaks up the broth where it's cooking." Instead of simply cooking your rice in water, Jinich recommends adding "a cooking liquid or broth that has flavor — it can be tomato sauce, or black bean broth, or veggie broth that was poured over seasoned ingredients. [That way] you're really letting the rice absorb all that flavor." 

Do you often have difficulty with the texture of your rice at home? Jinich believes "the most common mistake people make with rice is just not having patience. You can get beautiful fluffy rice, depending on the rice you use, whether it's extra long white, jasmine, or basmati if you just read the instructions on how to best cook it." Because of the time commitment, Jinich suggests making a big batch and then using your leftover rice to enhance future meals. You can "reheat [the rice] and use it to top sunny side up eggs on a Sunday morning, you can have it as a side, or you can just reheat it and make crispy patties. There are so many things to do with the rice."

To watch new episodes of "Pati's Mexican Table", check out your local PBS station.