In 2010, I went to Barcelona on vacation with my friend Jennie. Both of us being foodies, we ate our way through countless tapas and sangria. While there, we took a cooking class where we learned to make several different small plates. One of the highlights of this class was an escorted tour of La Boqueira on La Rambla, to pick up various ingredients. Our instructor had an "in" with the person who sold saffron so many of us bought some to bring home. I bought a tiny little container of saffron that I am still using (and I realize it's probably past its prime but the flavor is still there, so I keep using it).
The candy portion of the market in Barcelona. Heaven.
Earlier this week I remade one of the dishes I made last year as part of my 52-new recipe resolution. It's kind of a poor man's paella, without all the seafood and taking probably a third of the time to make. Also, it does well as a make ahead meal that you can easily reheat the next day. Full disclosure: this is a Rachel Ray recipe. (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/rice-pilaf-with-chorizo-casserole-recipe/index.html)
Rice Pilaf with Chorizo Casserole
- 1 generous pinch saffron threads, about 20
- 2 cups chicken stock-in-a-box
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds Spanish style chorizo, 1 package (recommended: Gaspar's or Trois Petit Cochons)
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup drained chopped pimientos peppers
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 1/3 cup dry sherry or 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup broken thin spaghetti
- 1 cup long-grain white rice
- 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Put the saffron in small pot with 1 1/2 cups stock and about 1 cup water. Bring to boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and let steep for a few minutes while you prepare the chorizo and onions.
Heat a skillet with a tight fitting lid over medium-high heat. Remove the casings from the chorizo and slice about 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick, on an angle. Add a drizzle of olive oil to the hot skillet and add the chorizo. Brown evenly on both sides, 4 to 5 minutes total. Remove the chorizo to a plate and add another drizzle of oil to the skillet along with the onions. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the pimientos and peas and stir to heat through. Deglaze the pan with sherry or wine and stir 1 to 2 minutes. Remove them from the pan to the plate with the chorizo.
Return the pan to medium heat and melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. Add the pasta and stir until deeply golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the rice and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook for 18 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork.
Grease a casserole with the remaining 1 tablespoon of softened butter. Fill the casserole with cooked rice and top with an arrangement of the chorizo and onion mixture. Cool and chill as a make-ahead meal. Reheat by dousing the casserole with 1/2 cup chicken stock then put it in the preheated 375 degree F oven, loosely covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for about until heated through and barely crispy at edges, about 10 minutes. Top with parsley and serve.