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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Baked Rice Valenciano

Baked Rice Valenciano
Expat Dies in Grease Fire

This is called Arroz al horno in Spanish and Arros al forn in Valencià (The left leaning accent is correct in the language of Valencia, or Valencià as they call it.). I have been warned that this dish, although rather simple, can be difficult to pull off. I am writing this in real-time so we’ll see how I do.

4 cups rice
8 cups chicken stock
1 potato
2 cloves of garlic
1 bulb of garlic
3 roma tomatoes
Morcilla sausage
A bit of bacon or pancetta
1 ½ cups of cooked garbanzo beans
Olive oil

I cheated by cooking some potatoes in the pressure cooker. I will probably make a tortilla in the next couple of days and I like to use pre-cooked spuds so it takes less time and uses less oil. Yes, I try to cut down on oil once in a while.

Cut the potato in slices and sauté in olive oil with the pancetta and the sausage. Sauté the garlic bulb briefly in the pan. Remove all these ingredients and set aside.

Shit! I burned myself with a grease spatter. I need a time-out to go get a little brandy for the pain.

Sauté the chopped garlic gloves in the same oil and put the rice in the pan and coat with oil.

My brother is calling my on the Skype. I pour myself another brandy and turn off all of the burners. We do a three-way conference call with one of my brother’s old army buddies who visited me in Seattle last year. We trade stories unfit even for the internet. My apartment reeks of pork products. I think I am assimilating.

In a large baking dish (Here they use a large, round clay dish) place all of the ingredients. The tomatoes should be cut in half and spaced around the pan. The stock should be hot when you mix it. Place the garlic bulb in the middle and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350° for about 20 minutes.

While this is in the oven I clean the kitchen which has been thoroughly destroyed by the initial cooking procedures. The place still reeks of pork so I open the balcony door even though it is about 5° C outside. I also came up short in the stock to rice ratio and now I have to add stock to the baking rice dish. They told me this was going to be tricky. I pour myself a glass of wine as a precaution against a possible failure.

The cooking instructions I found were rather vague. My initial motivation for attempting to prepare this dish came from a Valenciano cookbook in a language I don’t speak. I love the pictures. The Spanish recipe I found later was almost as imprecise. Most of the time when I made rice back in the States I used a rice cooker like any self-respecting Asian person would do, but here they insist on the old-school method. I just hate the thought of all of that wonderful sausage going to waste because I fucked up the liquid-to-rice ratio.

No more brandy. The good news is that I have enough cheap Spanish wine on hand to float a small boat. I bought a bottle of wine at the store today that cost about 3€ and I felt like I was being extravagant. I think that it is the height of gauche when James Bond or some other douche bag makes a big show of ordering an expensive bottle of wine. What nouveau riche trash! As if the height of sophistication is fetishistic wine knowledge. Just drink your swill and shut your cake hole.

So the baked rice didn’t come out to great. I should have lined the top of the dish with the potatoes to shield the other ingredients from the heat. I also had the over up too high but that I blame on the Celsius conversion and the fact that the oven temperature setting isn’t very precise. It wasn’t a total failure and I was able to eat it. It usually takes a few tries to nail down a new recipe. I’ll have to find a restaurant that features this dish to get more of an idea of how it is supposed to turn out.

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