Around the Bowl

Soups of the world – Recipes from around the globe & some creations of my own


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Arroz Amarillo con Pollo – Chicken Yellow Rice

As far as I can recall, because you know memory can be tricky sometimes, this is the very first actual recipe I cooked on my own, when I was around 10 years old. I say actual, because far before then I used to “cook” cube stock with soup noodles, as you can see I’ve been obsessed with soup from a very early age.

My grandma Ajó (from my father’s side) was the one who taught me this clearly paella-inspired recipe that was one of her star dishes, along with empanadas, that everybody loved. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to successfully reproduced her empanadas but luckily I came much closer to her arroz con pollo.

Both my grannies were the ones who introduced me to cooking, check out the first recipe in the grannies series here, which is also another legendary family dish from my other grandma, Dina. They were both great cooks, each one with their own signature style, but a common ground: they mastered a few good recipes, nothing fancy or exotic, that they repeated over the years with always the same steady and delicious result! I’ve always admired that, because my outcomes in the kitchen are much more variable. I guess it has to do with the global approach and large flow of information we have nowadays that make us keep trying different things all the time. I am happy to be able to enjoy both the traditional and the innovative approaches in my kitchen…

Arroz con pollo is a quite common dish in Argentina, where I come from, that has most probably been adapted from our Spanish heritage. The cooking principles are the same as the paella ones, with easily available local ingredients. The yellow colour comes from the saffron, which being such an expensive ingredient back in the day, was usually mixed with some sort food colouring, such as turmeric, but sold under the generic name of “saffron”.

Shall we cook now?

By the way, how do you like this year’s header, aren’t you craving soup now? yummy!

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Chicken and Artichokes Paella

At last, a Spanish recipe! It was about time I publish one; a while ago a dear friend of mine that took a look at the blog told me precisely that, not a single Spanish recipe! I know, I know, Spanish cuisine is sooo good that is unbelievable that it took me this long, but here we are and with nothing less than a paella!

Paella refers both the dish and the pan where it is cooked (the same case as tagine). Since paella is usually prepared for family and friends gatherings, the pan is very shallow but big in diameter and it has two handles. As an example, a great seafood paella a good friend of mine invited me in Gandía (Valencia) during one of my first years in Spain.

The dish is original from Valencia, although is cooked all across the country and beyond, I think is one of the most international Spanish dishes. The most popular one is probably the seafood paella, however, some purists claim that the real one is the chicken and rabbit paella, with vegetables from the legendary Valencia vegetable patches (l’horta Valenciana).

The thing is that there are as many variants and recipes of paella as region and families in Spain. Each one has its own way of preparing it, little secrets, tricks and rituals around it.

Before getting into the recipe I like to share some important tricks I’ve collected from all my Spanish friends:

  1. Always have a very good quality stock ready (an excellent fish stock for the seafood paella is mandatory) and keep extra stock warm in case you need to add more during the cooking
  2. The rice used for paella is a round, short-grain and high-starch variety called “bomba”  if you can’t find it, Arborio makes a good substitute.
  3. Once you have added the rice and the stock to the pan, the rice should no longer be stirred or mixed throughout the rest of the cooking process.
  4. Because of the latter, the heat has to get uniformly to the full pan base, otherwise the rice in the centre will be overcooked by the time the rice on the sides is done. Use a pan that matches exactly one of your stove burners.
  5. The rice stuck at the bottom of the pan is called “socarrat” and it is supposed to be this way, many people (including myself) like to scratch it and eat it at the end of the meal!

 

Today I’m sharing a very unorthodox chicken and artichokes paella that turned out delicious! As I don’t have a paella, I used a regular frying pan. Take into account that paella is more about the method of cooking the rice than about the ingredients themselves. Once you have mastered it, you can be as creative as you want!

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