I can't help but remember how my Mother used to be so busy and excited when cooking ahead for the big day. She was unfazed by the tremendous amount of preparation that had to be done. A few of her signature dishes were always cooked at Christmas. The phrase "cooking from the heart" just makes sense to me when I remember the way she cooked. She did not follow recipes but had a particular way of cooking each dish. I can't imagine how she knew how much ingredients to put in when she cooked in such big amounts. Her food always tastes special because she really put extra care in preparing them.
This rice dish, Arroz Valenciana, was always cooked at Christmas. It simply means rice cooked in the Valencia style (arroz means rice and Valencia is a region in Spain). Although of Spanish origin, this recipe also has Filipino influences. Aside from the Spanish ingredients, it has glutinous rice and coconut milk. The addition of these two makes the rice very fragrant. The rice grains are just a touch sticky but still separate. This results from a controlled amount of liquid. Too much and you'll end up with a heavy sticky mass.
I measured the ingredients I used here and logged the exact cooking time. This will help everyone, me included, to cook the dish the same way each time. The amount of liquid and the cooking time is crucial to making perfect rice dishes. The rest of the ingredients can be varied. Aside from being tasty, the rice grains has to be cooked to perfection_not underdone nor stodgy. Although this dish is eaten at other times, its taste and looks always spells Christmas for me.
2 tbsps. olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 onion, cut into chunks
3 boneless chicken thighs, cut into quarters
2 pieces of chorizo, sliced
2 tbsps. tomato puree (paste)
1 c. of uncooked Thai jasmine or long grain rice
1/2 c. of uncooked glutinous rice
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. of kasubha (safflower) toasted and crushed
3 cooked sausages, cut diagonally
2 potatoes, cut into big chunks
1 c. chicken stock
1 c. of coconut milk
1/2 sweet red pepper, cut into chunks
1/3 c. sultanas or raisins
1/3 c. of frozen green peas
Soak the Jasmine and glutinous rice in water for an hour. Drain very well.
Pre-heat the oven to 300° F/ 150° C.
Heat up a sauté pan and add the 2 tbsps. of olive oil. Sauté the garlic until light brown, then add the onions. Cook until translucent but not soft.
Add the chicken pieces and the sliced chorizo. Stir. When the chicken meat has changed colour, add the tomato puree (paste) and the fish sauce. Stir until the tomato puree fully coats the chicken. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the sultanas, peppers and green peas, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat on low and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the sweet peppers and sultanas and stir.
Transfer to an oven proof dish. Set this dish inside a bigger pan and add water to reach halfway up its sides. Cover both pans tightly with foil. Bake for an hour, stirring at half time.
When done, take out of the oven and add the green peas and cover again. Return to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
Take out of the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before serving.
This will serve 6.
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|Arroz con Pollo Y Chorizo|