Arroz de Perol

Wet Rice with Chicken

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Racion

    4–6

Appears in

MoVida

By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2007

  • About

It’s not just paella that is the man’s domain. In Spain, many rice dishes are cooked by men. When we were visiting my Aunt Carmen in Córdoba, she took us up to the hills with her boyfriend, Isidro. It’s fascinating to watch the ritual that the casual male cook makes of cooking. I suppose it’s half to do with putting on a show and half remembering what comes next. Isidro made a little fire and let it burn down, adjusting the wood and eventually the coals. He carefully browned the rabbit pieces, slowly made the sofrito in the perol and, with understated flair, half dropped, half flung the rice into the perol like a peasant farmer scattering seed. Waiting for a meal to cook in the open air only intensifies hunger and this rich, vibrant, creamy perol with chunks of browned meat and flashes of green beans was one of the best I’ve ever eaten. Perols can be purchased from Spanish shops but a large round-sided pot is a perfect substitute.

Ingredients

  • 1.6 kg (3 lb 8 oz) chicken or rabbit, cut into 12 pieces (see Note)
  • fine sea salt
  • 80 ml ( fl oz/ cup) olive oil
  • 1 brown onion, finely diced
  • 1 red capsicum (pepper), seeded, membrane removed and finely diced
  • 1 green capsicum (pepper), seeded, membrane removed and finely diced
  • 4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) hot chicken stock
  • 300 g (10½ oz) Calasparra rice
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • ½ teaspoon Spanish sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 200 g (7 oz) green flat beans, cut into 3 cm (1¼ inch) lengths

Method

Thoroughly season the chicken with fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a perol or large, round-sided pot over high heat. Add the chicken pieces, reduce the heat to medium and cook for 4 minutes each side, or until browned. Remove and cover.

Add the onion and capsicum and sauté for 5–10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened. Add the tomato, stir through and cook for 15 minutes, or until pulpy, stirring occasionally. Return the chicken to the perol and pour in the hot stock. Increase the heat to high, bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes until the stock has reduced by about a third. Add the rice and stir through. Continue cooking for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, crush the saffron threads with the paprika, thyme, peppercorns and garlic using a mortar and pestle until the peppercorns are well crushed. Add a few tablespoons of hot stock from the perol and mix well. Add the spice mix to the rice and stir through.

Add the beans to the perol and continue to cook for 15–20 minutes, or until the rice is just tender and the chicken well cooked. Season to taste with salt. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.