I don’t remember the last time I made regular white rice on the stovetop—instead, I almost always make brown rice, and I have a few tricks. For at least the past few years, I’ve been using this amazing method from Cook’s Illustrated to make baked brown rice, and I usually keep some cooked rice in the freezer in case of rice emergencies. And just recently, I learned from Mark Bittman how to swap brown rice in for white in any recipe (boil the brown rice for 10-15 minutes, then drain and continue on as the recipe directs), and it worked beautifully in an otherwise lackluster vegetable paella.

But probably my favorite rice trick these days is this baked “Mexican” seasoned brown rice. It’s only a hair more involved than the Cook’s Illustrated brown rice, but you end up with something worlds away from plain old brown rice.

Nice spiced rice.

Toss in some beans and veggies, maybe with cilantro and cotija cheese on top, and it’s a fabulous meal.

Nice spiced rice, you more than suffice!

Baked Mexican brown rice
From Whole Foods

1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, sliced
2 to 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 cups long-grain brown rice
2 3/4 cup water
3/4 cup crushed canned tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground ancho or other chili powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt

Heat oven to 350°F. In an ovenproof saucepan or small Dutch oven, heat oil on top of the stove over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and jalapeño peppers and cook, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Stir in rice and cook 1 minute more. Add water, tomatoes, chili powder and salt. Bring to a boil, stir and cover. Bake, without stirring, until rice is tender, about 1 hour. Fluff with a fork and serve.