So not surprising for January, it is frigid outside. I know that I should not find this surprising, however, EVERY year in the Midwest I am bitterly reminded why I was happy to explore other areas of the country. Who needs seasons when you can practically pretend that snow is a miracle that only occurs elsewhere (or limited to freak weather storms that yield a day off or advisory for everyone to STAY indoors…)
So to keep the cold at bay, and create an excuse to warm up the house with residual heat from the oven, I decided to tackle this: http://www.food.com/recipe/one-pot-spanish-chicken-and-rice-512383. Plus, to make this more fun, I was given an AMAZING 5 quart Dutch Oven for Christmas, and this is a great meal to experiment with.
Like all things culinary, it’s great to read the recipe first and then assemble your items (I did not…therefore please ignore the tomatoes and extra bag of rice in the picture…they have already made it back to the cupboard).
In addition to the olive oil suggested in the recipe, I utilized some smoked bacon fat. We often make bacon on the weekends, and the drippings are pure gold to cook with. I usually keep a stash on the top shelf of the fridge in a custard cup. The smoky element alone is awesome.
To start the cooking, I pulled out the Dutch Oven, added the oils, and placed it over a medium heat. While the pan was heating up , I cut up the onion, garlic, and peppers. Feel free to do all the prep first, I like to minimize my kitchen time, and often opt to prep in between steps.
Once the pan was hot, I laid 2 chicken breasts in the pan, and sprinkled with freshly ground pepper. While I would recommend sticking with the chicken thighs listed in the recipe as they are tender and moist – I only had breasts on-hand. To seal in the juices/flavor and add some color to this very white protein, this step is important! After one side is done, in about 2-3 minutes, flip the chicken and add in the chorizo. I also added some red pepper flakes because the chorizo I had was more mild. As with anything, make it your own!
After the chorizo begins to cook and essentially releases it’s red color into the pot, add in the vegetables so that they can soften and absorb flavor from the proteins. This could take a bit, we like our peppers with a bit of bite, so I only spent five minutes on this step.
We were out of long grain rice, so I substituted 1 package of Vigo Spanish Rice (seemed appropriate) and dumped it directly into the pot to coat all the rice with fats from the original additions and the drippings from the proteins. Coating rice is a wonderful way to prevent sticking, promote even cooking, and help the rice get to the right level of soft. (Usually 1-2 minutes does the trick).
The rice subsitution also meant I needed an extra 1/2 cup of liquid, so in addition to the stock I added 1/2 cup of an Argentinian red wine.
After all the liquid and paprika was added, I placed the lid on tight, adjusted the temperature to medium-low and set the timer for 45 minutes. You’ll want to peek due to the awesome smells. DO NOT LIFT THE LID or you’ll rid the pan of the needed moisture and heat conditions necessary to cook the rice. [Crunchy rice in hot liquid is not tonight’s goal].
Once the timer goes off, gently remove the lid and stir. If the rice is not done and there is still too much liquid (aka what happened to me tonight), replace the lid and continue to heat covered until the rice is done. Once the texture is soft and fluffy, I sprinkled fresh thyme leaves (and precooked shrimp) over the top and fluffed the whole pot with a fork.
To serve, I put in a clear glass bowl. Fresh thyme or chives make an awesome garnish, in this case I stuck with Thyme leaves.