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Monday, June 09, 2008

My Definitive Recipe for Arroz al Horno

Baked rice is probably my favorite Valencian recipe, if not my favorite Spanish dish, if not one of my all-time favorite meals. I prefer it to paella if for no other reason than that I don't really have the stove needed to cook a huge pan of paella, a dish that requires a constant heat to the whole pan—at least to do it well. Traditional paella is usually cooked over a wood fire for this reason. Arroz al Horno, as the name states, is cooked in the oven. An oven I got.

I have made this dish more than just about any other dish in my repertoire—perhaps once a week. I have developed my own tricks for it and my Arroz al Horno is pretty damn good, just ask anyone who has tried it, and all my friends have tried it. Mine recipe detours a bit from the traditional method on just a couple points. I love potatoes so I use more potatoes than you will find in traditional Arroz al Horno. I cover the entire baking dish with potatoes. I also brown them and they always come out great. The potatoes act like a heat shield—just like on the space shuttle. The spuds protect the other, more delicate ingredients. I don't use bacon. I love bacon but it's really not necessary in this dish. Other than that mine is your typical Spanish granmother's Arroz al Horno.

Arroz al Horno

2 cups rice (I use Fallera Valencian rice)
5 cups stock (chicken, beef, or pork will do)
3-4 Chorizo sausages
3-4 Morcilla sausages (I sometimes substitute blanquet sausages)
Pork ribs cut into cubes
5 plum tomatoes
1 ½ cup cooked garbanzo beans (I use a 400g. jar)
1 bulb of garlic
3 large potatoes
Saffron, salt

Begin by peeling the potatoes. Boil them until they are just a bit tender. Remove from the water.

Heat the stock to a boil. Add the pre-cooked garbanzos and when stock returns to a boil take it off the heat and add the saffron. You want everything to be hot that goes into the baking dish.

Cook the ribs in olive oil until they are browned but not over-cooked. Remove. Slice the chorizo into bite-size bits and cook them. Remove and put the meat in the baking dish.

Trim the tops from the plum tomatoes and slice them into thirds along their width. Season both sides of each slice with salt and a bit of oregano.

Sauté the rice in olive oil as you would with risotto. Stir constantly. When it has cooked a bit add it to the baking dish.

Pour the stock with the garbanzos into the baking dish. Stir the contents of the dish so everything is mixed well.

Add the tomato slices to the dish. Lay the morcilla sausages around the dish. Place the garlic bulb in the center.

Slice the potatoes at about ¼ inch thickness and lay them on top of everything else in the baking dish. Salt the top of the potatoes.

Place the dish into a pre-heated oven at about º190. When the tops of the potatoes begin to brown remove the dish, flip the potatoes, season the tops, and return the dish to the oven. When the tops of the other side of the potatoes are browned a bit, cover the dish with aluminum foil. Remove the dish when the stock has evaporated.

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