Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cilantro Lime Brown Rice and Roasted Corn

Since we went a little overboard on the fajitas and the shrimp last night, we have a nice big hunk of steak leftover.  When I was trying to think of what to pair with it, the first thing that came to mind was cilantro lime rice, like they serve at Chipotle.  And when when I typed "cilantro lime rice" in my Google search engine all sorts of blogs and other recipes popped up.  Apparently I'm not the only one who loves that freaking rice.  It's delicious.  I guess I should have known or assumed that other people would have attempted to replicate the Chipotle rice at home in the past.  To go with our rice and steak, we decided to roast some corn.  Since Alex and I are trying to do the healthy thing and since we are out of regular basmati rice, I decided to try to make my version of Cilantro Lime Rice with brown basmati rice.  Generally I am not a fan of brown rice over white rice because it tends to take so much longer to cook and it tends to have an interesting toothsome texture, but I figured what the heck.  Rather than going out to the store to pick up some more white basmati rice, I might as well use what I have and pretend that I'm being healthy instead of just lazy.  Since I think that brown rice, like most whole grain versions of pasta, rice, etc., requires a little more seasoning to make it palatable, I cooked my rice in chicken stock instead of water.  You could just as easily use vegetable stock, but we had chicken stock so I used it.  I also threw in a little sauteed garlic and some chopped scallions in addition to the lime zest, lime juice, and chopped cilantro.

Overall, I would have preferred to use white rice instead of brown.  I just think that the nuttiness of the brown rice competed a bit with the flavors of the lime, cilantro and the scallions.  Also I think that white rice cooks up much fluffier than brown rice, no matter what type of rice it is.  All-in-all, I would make the rice again.  I would just try white rice instead and I think it would be a completely different dish.

The corn however was a great success.  I love elote - Mexican grilled or roasted corn smeared in mayonnaise with chili powder, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.  It's messy, but unbelievably delicious.  However, I just can't justify the wanton use of mayo in my own kitchen so I made a modified version.  I think the corn tastes best when grilled so it can get the smoky flavor of grilling and the char from the flame.  This version lacks that smoky flavor and char, although I did try to impart some smokiness with the use of ground cumin, and also lacks the creamy goodness of the mayo but it is a wonderful summer side dish nonetheless.

Recipes after the jump!

Cilantro Lime Brown Rice

1 tbsp olive oil or butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup brown Basmati rice
1 lime, juiced (about 2 tbsp lime juice)
2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or more, to taste)
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 tsp lime zest

Rinse rice in water and then drain.  Soak in cool water for 30 minutes.  Drain well.

Melt butter, or heat oil, over medium-low heat.  Add garlic.  Stir to coat in butter/oil.  Add rice.  Toast rice, about 1 minute.  Add lime juice, chicken stock and salt.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Boil under water has reduced to the level of the rice.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove pot from heat and allow rice to sit, covered, for 10 minutes.  Remove lid, fluff rice with a fork and transfer rice to a large bowl. 

Just before serving, stir in cilantro, scallions and 1 tsp lime zest.

Roasted Corn with Cotija, Cilantro, Cumin, Cayenne and Butter

2 ears sweet corn
1 tbsp butter, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
ground black pepper
1 tbsp cotija cheese, grated
1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Shuck corn and rinse off any remaining corn silk.  Place each ear of corn in the middle of a piece of tin foil.  Evenly split the pieces of butter between each ear.  Sprinkle with salt, ground cumin, cayenne pepper and ground black pepper.  Wrap each piece of corn up in the foil, sealing tightly to form little packages.  Place foil-wrapped corn on a baking sheet.  Roast in the oven for 25 minutes.  Using tongs, flip corn over halfway through after 15 minutes.

Remove corn from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.  Unwrap corn, sprinkle it with cotija cheese, cilantro, and a pinch of additional cayenne pepper (if desired).

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