Amazing Rice Dishes from Spain

Arros Cordobesa (Andalusia) (2) The southern region of Spain is Andalusia famous for its invention of tapas, of gazpacho, and a myriad of amazingly delicious rice dishes not well known in the United States. Unlike the paella of Valencia, Andalusian rice dishes are usually baked in an oven or if cooked stove-top are usually cooked in an earthenware casserole, but they are no less notable than a Valencian paella cooked on a burner. One of my favorite of these Andalusian rice dishes I made recently as my daughter had requested it for her birthday. Arroz Córdobés is a Córdoban-style rice with chicken, veal, rabbit and pork.

During the Middle Ages, an active spice trade in Seville assured a cuisine at the upper levels of society that was richly flavored. Once the new plants from the Americas began to arrive, they were incorporated into the cuisine, many of them utilized in a similar manner as older spices. Ground chile and bell peppers in the form of paprika became popular. This contemporary rice preparation from the mountainous region around Córdoba is traditionally made in a large copper kettle called a peroles. The variety of meat, shellfish, and spices make it a very exciting and satisfying dish for the family table.
Arroz Córdobés
Cordoban-style Rice
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
¾ pound boneless veal shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into small pieces
¾ pound boneless chicken thigh, skinned and cut into small pieces
¾ pound boneless rabbit (preferably) or mild Italian sausage, cut into small pieces
¾ pound pork butt or shoulder, cut into small pieces
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
½ pound common (white) mushrooms, quartered
1 cup water
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup dry white wine
12 littleneck clams, soaked in cold water with 1 teaspoon of baking soda for 1 hour, rinsed and scrubbed well
4 cups medium-grain Spanish rice
10 ounces fresh or frozen peas
1. In a large earthenware casserole (preferably), heat 1 cup olive oil over a medium heat, then cook the onion and garlic until golden, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn. (If using earthenware and if it is not flameproof, or if you don’t know, you will need to use a heat diffuser. Earthenware heats up slower but retains its heat longer than non-earthenware casseroles. When using earthenware, food may cook slower at first and then cook very quickly while retaining its heat, so adjust accordingly). Add the pieces of veal, chicken, rabbit or sausage, and pork and cook, stirring, until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes.
2. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to the casserole and add the green pepper and tomatoes and cook, stirring, until the pepper is limp, about 15 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the casserole. Pour in the water and raise the heat to high. Season with the lemon juice, saffron, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 45 minutes. Adjust the temperature and the time according to how tender or evaporated things are.
3. Once the meat is cooked and soft, add the wine and clams and cook for 10 minutes over a high heat. Add the rice, distribute it around the casserole, and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add the peas, cover, and cook until the water is absorbed and the rice cooked, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve hot.
Makes 8 to 10 servings

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