It was a Sunday and guests were coming over and I got inspired. Two books, The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen and Spanish Made Simple by Omar Allibhoy, inspired me. Allibhoy’s recipe was very simple but von Bremzen’s description added context and helped me to improvise, just a little.
I like paella and love it when it’s done really well. Mostly, I think of it like Mexican mole: it’s a special occasion dish for most of us and probably best left that way. This recipe appealed to me because it used Spanish bomba rice, which is short grain and absorbs all the love you can throw at it, and because it used the stovetop and oven instead of a special paella set up. I used an old favorite clay Spanish cazuela but you could easily use a large cast iron skillet.
To start things off, on Allibhoy’s suggestion, I took some salt-packed anchovies and soaked, cleaned and rinsed them well. Then I had them rest in a mix of olive oil, sherry vinegar and a pinch of sweet, smoked pimenton. Oddly, you serve these with plain potato chips. They were incredible and the platter didn’t last five minutes. This is a keeper.
I had adventuresome guests so I decided to use a mix of local sausages, in the this case, Toulouse and budin noir from The Fatted Calf. I was a wee bit concerned about blood sausages but when the final dish came out, they were the first things gone. They are very easy to enjoy.
In Allibhoy’s recipe, you just fry the sausages but von Bremzen suggests poaching them first for 2 minutes in boiling water. This seemed like a good idea and I saved the poaching water for a future pot of beans.
I also added some traditional Spanish-style chorizo from Aurelia’s in Texas. It’s delicious and I am going to assume very traditional. I ordered mine online and if you do the same, double what you think you may need as it will go fast and it seems to go with everything, especially beans.
Speaking of beans, the recipe called for a cup of cooked garbanzos. You could easily double this and extend the dish further. I’m comprising and calling for a cup and a half. Use between a cup and 2 cups but make sure they’re real and not from a can. Why, Rancho Gordo brand has gorgeous new crop garbanzos in stock right now! Amazing.
Recipe: Arroz al Horno /Baked Rice with Sausages
inspired from recipes by Omar Allibhoy and Anya von Bremzen
3 ½ cups bean broth (or chicken, beef or pork)
2 teaspoons saffron threads
2 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 head of garlic, halved
8 ounces pancetta, cubed
1 small potato, cubed
2 morcilla sausages (blood sausages), punctured and poached in water for 2 minutues
4 Toulouse or other uncooked, European style pork sausages, punctured and poached in water for 2 minutues
1 hard Spanish chorizo
1 teaspoon sweet, smoked pimenton
1 bay leaf
1 large tomato, grated
2 cups paella (bomba) rice
1 ½ cups cooked Rancho Gordo garbanzo beans, strained
Heat your pan or cazuela over medium heat. If you’re using a clay cazuela, there shouldn’t be a problem but you might want to start on low and turn up the heat as the pan warms. Add a splash of olive oil and fry the tomatoes and garlic halves until they are golden, taking care to keep the top of the garlic half in one piece. Remove and reserve.
Add the pancetta, potatoes, morcilla and tolouse sausages and cook gently for 15 minutes, turning and browning the sausages as needed. Add the pimenton, bay leaf, and the grated tomato and continue to gently fry for 3-4 more minutes.
While the sausage mixture cooks, in a saucepan, bring the stock/broth up to a boil and preheat the oven to 400F.
Add the rice and stir, cooking for 2 minutes.
Pour the boiling stock into the cazuela, over the rice, along with the garbanzos and saffron threads, and stir. Spread the meat around as evenly as possible. Gently add back the garlic halves and tomatoes. Turn the heat up to medium high and allow the mixture to simmer rapidly for 10 minutes.
Put the entire cazuela into the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, check the rice. If it’s done, remove the cazuela from the oven and allow it to rest on the tabletop before serving. If the rice isn’t finished cooking, keep the cazuela in the oven and check every few minutes until the rice is cooked.
You can cut the sausages into halves, or even bite size pieces. I prefer halves.
Allow the dish to rest for about 10-15 minutes.