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Archive for the ‘Rice’ Category

My grandmother Ita always says an “arroz guisado” (stewed rice) is as good as the “sofrito” you make.  In Puerto Rico, sofrito refers to a blend of oil, onions, garlic, aji dulce (sweet peppers), bay leaf, tomato sauce, “alcaparrado” (a blend of manzanilla olives and capers), cubanel and bell peppers, culantro (recao) and sometimes, ham, cilantro, oregano, annatto oil and cumin that is sauteed for a prolonged time to create a base for rice, legumes, soup or stews.  Sofrito has its origins in Mediterranean cuisine and is also popular in Greece, Portugal and Spain.  As a result of colonization and the discovery of the new world, many latin american countries have their own variation of sofrito for each specific region.

Arroz con Salchichas is a popular Puertorrican one pot meal that is inexpensive, simple and savory.  It is sometimes called “the hurricane season diet” because it is easy to prepare over a gas stove, feeds a crowd and its ingredients don’t need refrigeration. It is loved by young and old and is a staple dish in traditional Puertorrican families, comfort food for many and an “antojito” (craving) for expatriates.

Enjoy!

Arroz con Salchichas

Ingredients

2 tbsp canola oil (annatto oil can also be used for a deeper red color)

1/4 cup cubanel (pimiento de cocinar) or green pepper finely chopped

1/3 cup yellow onion finely chopped

1 fresh garlic clove minced

1 tbsp red bell pepper finely chopped

2 tsp fine sea salt

2 laurel leaves

1 “recaito ice cube” (about 1 1/2 tbsp store bought recaito)

2 cans vienna sausage coarsely sliced (save brine)

1/4 cup canned sweet corn

2 tbsp alcaparrado (mix of manzanilla spanish olives and capers)

1/2 cup tomato sauce

3 cups medium white rice

3 cups chicken stock

Procedure

1.  Heat oil (med-low) then add green cubanel pepper, onions, garlic and red pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes.

2.  Add rest of ingredients, except chicken broth and rice, and saute in med low for about 7-8 minutes.

3.  Add rice to sofrito and quickly saute to cover all rice with color.  Then add chicken stock and sausage brine and bring heat to medium.  Let cook uncovered until almost all liquid has evaporated and you see bubbles on top of rice.

4.  Bring heat to low.  Stir with a slotted spoon and continue to cook covered, until rice is done (about 10-12 more minutes).

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My sister in law Frances is an expert at improvising in the kitchen.  For more times than I can remember, I have seen her juggle in the kitchen to feed a large group of unannounced guests with delicious homemade meals.  This rice is inspired in one of her trademarks.  She makes it in a rice cooker, but I don’t own a rice cooker so I make it in my caldero, chef’s pan or heavy bottomed sauce pan.  In addition, she uses extra-long grain white rice which I substitute with Jasmine Rice.  It is easy, colorful and a nice twist to traditional white rice. Also, this rice is aromatic and full of flavor. By making little changes like these in everyday meals we get inspired to get out of the routine and explore new possibilities.  Accompany with filet mignon, grilled chicken or bbq ribs.

Enjoy!

Arroz con Pimientos (rice with peppers)

approximately 8 generous servings

Ingredients

4 tbsp (1/2 stick) of butter

1/4 green bell pepper (cubed)

1/4 red bell pepper (cubed)

1/4 yellow bell pepper (cubed)

1/4 cup onions (coarsely chopped)

3 cups jasmine rice

1 tbsp salt

4 1/2 cups of water

Procedure

1.  In a medium size heavy bottom pan or caldero, melt butter (med heat).

2.  Sauté  onions and peppers until onions are translucent.

3.  Add jasmine rice and stir to coat all grains with the melted butter.

4.  Add water and cook uncovered until most of water has evaporated and you can see small holes in the top of rice.

5.  Stir with a slotted spoon or large fork. Reduce heat to low and cover until rice is cooked, about 15-20 more minutes.

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Arroz con Amarillos is nothing more than my Arroz con Cilantro recipe with fried sweet plantains, but boy, what a difference they make! YUMMY! Savory and sweet in every bite!  Plantains can be cooked green or ripe. Amarillos (what ripe plantains are called in Puerto Rico) or plátanos maduros (like they are called in other latin american countries)  are a staple dish in most tropical countries around the world.  They can be steamed, boiled, baked, grilled or fried. Nowadays,  fried plantains (green or ripe) come frozen and ready to eat, but of course, it is much better if you find fresh ripe sweet plantains. In order for the plantain to be sweet it must be yellow with black patches on the outside.  Green plantains, used for tostones, mofongo (mashed) or chips (mariquitas or platanutres), are “starchy” like potatoes and seasoned with salt, bacon, onions or broth.  On the other hand, sweet plantains, used for piononos and pastelón,  are naturally sweet and need no seasoning and go great to accompany savory/salty meals. When I use the frozen kind to make this rice, I thaw them and saute in a skillet with a bit of butter. If I make it with fresh ripe plantains I don’t add the butter since they are coated with the vegetable oil in which they have been fried.  When I make  this rice dish people always come back for more. My friend Alexandra loves this kind of rice! I have offered it to our guests in Thanksgiving with our traditional whole fried turkey as well as with Filet Mignon, Prime Rib or New York Strip.  Also, great with a side salad or sauteed veggies.

Enjoy!

Arroz con Amarillos

Ingredients

Arroz con Cilantro Recipe

3 ripe sweet plantains or 2 boxes of frozen Goya sweet plantains (11 ounce each)

Procedure


1.  If using frozen plantains, thaw and saute in about 2 tbsp of butter over med-hi heat.  If using fresh ripe plantains, slice very ripe plantains about 1/2 inch thick and fry over med-hi heat in canola or vegetable oil until golden brown.

2.  Cube fried plantains and stir into cooked rice.

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My Arroz con Pollo recipe is influenced by a mixture of recipes and tips I have picked up along the way and is the result of trials and errors in the kitchen. Arroz con Pollo is a one pot dish that feeds a large group and is excellent to make on a Sunday afternoon for a late lunch/early dinner.  Sometimes we have unexpected guests on weekends and we usually make this dish. Easy, simple and delicious. Everyone gathers around the kitchen area and is enthralled with the aromas that fill the house while this dish is being made. This Arroz con Pollo has a distinct flavor which makes it special and different.   The result is a “wet rice” similar to a Paella.  You may use a whole chicken or boneless chicken breasts.  It serves approximately 12  persons.

Enjoy!

Arroz con Pollo

Ingredients

1/2 cup canola oil

6 chicken breasts cut into 1×2 inch filets or 2 whole chicken (cut in pieces)

1 tsp of adobo

3 cloves of garlic minced

1 large onion finely chopped

1 cubanel pepper finely chopped

2 cans of whole pimentos pureed (7 oz each)

4 oz tomato sauce

2 tbsp juice of naranja agria (bitter orange) OPTIONAL

2 tbs salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 bay leaves (hoja de laurel)

4  generous cups of extra long grain rice

2 cans of Pilsner or light yellow beer (12 oz each)

generous pinch of saffron threads (add to beer and allow to bloom for about 15 minutes)

2 cups chicken stock

8 oz petit pois (green peas)

1 can of asparagus spears 15 oz

Procedure:

1.  Season chicken pieces with adobo.  In a large caldero or heavy bottom saute pan heat oil (med-hi) and saute chicken brown it a little.

2.  Add onions, garlic and peppers and saute until trasluscent.

3.  Add bay leaves, salt, pepper, pureed pimentos, tomato sauce and bitter orange and saute for about 10 minutes.

4.  Add rice and mix with all ingredients.

5.  Add beer and saffron mixture along with chicken stock and cook uncovered until liquid evaporates. Stir with a slotted spoon.

6.  Bring heat to low and cover to cook until done.  Once the rice grain is tender decorate with green peas, asparagus and slices of pimentos and cover again for about 5 minutes. Turn heat off and serve.

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I’m back!!!! As you may have noticed, I like all kinds of rice.  When I started to make this recipe a long time ago for a Mother’s Day Celebration in my house, I chose to make it with parboiled rice because it is the best rice to use when cooking for a large group of people.  This rice dish is tasty, fragrant and easy.  It goes well with stir fry veggies, stews, braised or roasted beef, chicken or barbequed meats or seafood.  I also use it as my base rice for my “Arroz con Amarillos” recipe.

I want to know… how many of you know what parboiled rice is? All I knew was that when I cooked it, it took a bit longer to cook than white rice and that it was fool proof when cooking large amounts because it never became clingy or sticky. So I set out to find out what it really is and here are the facts according to http://www.rice-trade.com and wikipedia.

Parboiled rice is rice that has been partially boiled in its husk.  This procedure makes parboiled rice richer in nutritional value than processed white rice because the steaming seals most of the nutrients in (about 80% nutrients of brown rice).

Parboiled Rice is produced by a process of soaking, pressure steaming and drying prior to milling. Parboiling is a patented process. It changes the nutrients of the rice kernel. After undergoing this process and proper milling, the rice obtains a light yellow or amber color although the color largely fades after cooking. It cooks up fluffy and separate. It forms the main course of the meals for millions of people in Asia and else where. Many processed food such as popped or puffed rice products are produced from brown rice or parboiled rice for use as breakfast cereals and snack foods.

Process of Making Parboiled Rice

While in the paddy form, the rice is soaked and then steam cooked. This process does not allow the kernel to swell during the cooking and the moisture level does not exceed 40%. The starch granule is cooked (technically gelatinized), but not allowed to swell. The rice is then dried while still in the paddy form and then passed through a standard milling process to remove the hull and bran. This process has been going on for centuries in many countries and is believed to have started in ancient India.

Usage of Parboiled Rice

  • Parboiled rice has a higher vitamin content than raw milled rice.
  • Parboiled rice is quite nutritious, being an excellent source of niacin, a good source of thiamine and magnesium and a moderate source of protein, iron and zinc. Levels of vitamins and minerals fall between white rice and brown rice.
  • Parboiled rice is widely used in the catering industry as it is less sticky when cooked.
  • It is good in salads and retains its flavour and quality when kept hot for serving large numbers of people.
  • All rice comes from the field with insect eggs in the germ of the rice. These eggs hatch when the temperature is warm and moisture is available. The high temperatures occurring during parboiling kill any insect eggs in the rice and essentially sterilize it.
  • Parboiling also mends the cracks in the rice , that is, it glues broken rice back together and dramatically improves the milling yield of whole kernels in the rice.
  • Parboiling changes the texture of the rice. It becomes firmer and less sticky.
  • It is a much more durable kernel.
  • It takes just as long to cook (actually a little longer) as white rice, but is much easier to cook.
  • It can be overcooked without being mushy or losing its grain shape.
  • It is the only type of rice that can withstand the harsh treatment of most industrial processes that involve cooking and then freezing, canning, or drying.

Enjoy!

Arroz con Cilantro (Rice with Cilantro)

about 5-6 moderate sevings

Ingredients

1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 small onion finely chopped

2 cups parboiled long grain rice

1 tsp kosher salt

1/4 cup of finely chopped cilantro

3 cups organic chicken broth

Procedure



1.  In a small-med caldero or heavy bottom saucepan, heat oil (medium) and sauté finely chopped onions until translucent.

2.  Add parboiled rice, cilantro and salt and sauté for about 1 minute.  Then add chicken broth (lower heat a a bit under medium to prevent rice from sticking to bottom of pan).  Allow liquids to dry up and then stir rice.

3.  Cover to finish cooking in low heat until rice is fully cooked.

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This side dish can be found at any typical Puertorrican “fonda” or dive.  Arroz con tocino (I like to add the “tocino” for the flavor but don’t eat it) is simply medium grain white rice with salt pork.  The salt pork or “tocino” (I use Hormel brand because it is not as salty and its marbled like bacon) gives the white rice additional flavor and its fat allows for the perfect setting to make crispy “pegao” (crusty rice at the bottom of the pan seen in the following picture).  Other countries make similar crusty rice like in the Dominican Republic in which they call it “con-con” or the persians which have different versions of rice called “polo” and also make crusty rice at the bottom.

tocino

pegao

Serve with “lechón asado”, “pasteles”, “carne guisada”, or “fricasé de pollo” and top with “habichuelas guisadas” with a side of “tostones” and a slice of avocado and you have an example of what many people in Puerto Rico like to have for lunch or dinner.  I know its a lot of food and unhealthy if eaten everyday in large quantities, but believe me, having “arroz con tocino” with stewed beans once in a while is very satisfying.

Enjoy!

Arroz con tocino

Ingredients

6 ounces of  tocino (salt pork) cubed

3 cups white medium rice

4 1/4 cups warm water

2 tsp fine sea salt

Procedure


1.  In a medium “caldero” heavy bottomed saucepan, sauté salt pork until golden brown for about  8 minutes over medium heat. Stir occationally.

2.  Add white rice and sauté for about 2 minutes. (if you want the tocino to remain crispy, remove form pan once its browned and add at the end when the rice is done)

3.  Add water and salt and let water evaporate completely.

4. Bring heat to low and stir rice.  Cover and cook for about 15 minutes or until rice is cooked completely. (add tocino if you removed in step 2)

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Rice is one of the foods that most cultures around the world have in common.  The difference is the method each prepares or seasons the rice.  I like rice in any “way, shape or form”. Ja!  However, I make it only once or twice a week as opposed to almost every day like my mother used to while I was growing up.  As you can see… I like to mix things up a bit in the kitchen.

Jasmine Rice, a variety native to Thailand, is very aromatic and tastes delicious cooked just plain.  I also like to make it with vegetables as the main dish. It is a satisfying, flavorful and colorful dish.  Jasmine rice will cling but not stick too much due to a lower amount of starch in its grains compared to other varieties (of course when cooked properly).

Enjoy!

Jasmine Rice with Vegetables

Ingredients

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 carrot (chopped)

1/2 cup frozen green peas

1/4 cup yellow or white onion (chopped)

2 cups jasmine rice

1/4 tsp saffron threads

1 cup water

1 3/4 cupsvegetable broth

2 tsp kosher salt

Procedure

1.   Warm up water a bit in microwave.  Place saffron threads in water and allow to bloom.

2.  In a heavy sauce pan or “caldero” heat (medium) extra virgin olive oil and add carrots, onion and green peas.  Sauté for about 3 minutes until onion is translucent.

3.  Add rice and sauté for about 2 minutes over medium heat. Add water-saffron mixture, vegetable broth and salt.

4.  Allow water to evaporate and then stir.   Bring heat to low and cover until done.

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