Wednesday, April 29, 2009

BARCELONA-STYLE CHICKEN AND RICE

It’s not that I have had this dish in Barcelona, but it’s definitely a creation that wouldn’t have been possible without this city’s influence. The characteristic Catalan marriage between earth and sea flavors, a component that I rave about in the “earth and sea paella” post, gives the classic, chicken and rice dish a twist. The fish stock I used is actually an accumulation of left- over stock from previous paellas as well as the remaining juices from any clam, mussel or other seafood dishes that I strain and freeze for a later use. This recipe also takes advantage of the bountiful artichokes that are available right now. In a pinch, frozen artichokes or any other vegetables would probably work nicely. As for the preparation, the technique is the same as that of a paella. In fact, if you have never made paella before, which I admit can be intimidating, you could use this as practice. This dish is less expensive and the stakes aren’t as high.

SERVES 6-8
1 lb chicken sausage, cut into 1 inch pieces
8 fresh artichoke hearts, cut into six or 8 pieces (reserve in a bowl with water and lemon juice to prevent oxidation or use frozen artichokes, no cans/jars)
2 large onions, finely chopped
6 c or 1.5 L fish stock/broth, homemade or store-bought
2.5 c short grain rice
Salt/pepper to taste
2-3 tbs olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cook the sausage with some of the olive oil over medium heat in a very large skillet, paella or clay pot (like the one in the picture) until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Remove, set aside and cook the onions with the additional oil until tender and golden brown, about 15 minutes. In the meantime bring the stock to a boil in a separate pot. Return the sausage and any juices along with the drained artichokes and rice to the pan. Cook, while stirring occasionally, until all the oil has coated the rice and it becomes translucent or pearl-like, about 4 minutes. At this point you can stop the cooking process and reserve in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours (also, do not boil the stock). Otherwise, increase the heat to medium-high. Ladle the boiling stock into the pan, add salt and pepper to taste and give it a shake so that everything is in an even layer. Cook until ¾ of the stock has reduced, about 10-12 minutes and place in the oven for another 8-10 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Remove from the oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for up to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

NOTES:
· The general rule for this style of rice dish or paella is 1 part rice to, slightly more than, 2 parts boiling liquid. I know that sounds very official and all but it depends on whether you like a dry or moist consistency, how high the heat is, etc.
· Unlike a risotto, a paella should never be stirred after you have added the liquid.
· Never skimp on the time used to cook your onions. They should be tender, golden brown and almost paste-like. This is a very important part of Catalan cuisine that adds tremendous depth of flavor if done properly. This is a great technique to use in vegetarian dishes as well.

5 comments:

  1. oh... I am so tempted! I really like rice, especially cook this way. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Looks great! Thanks for sharing an authentic recipe!

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  3. I love paella, and this looks like a delicious, variation. Sounds great with the artichokes.

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  4. Such a nice rice dish...love the combination of flavors.

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  5. Love the addition of artichokes. Surf'n'turf - the best of both worlds.

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