BY HELEN WESTWATER OF ‘LA OLA FRESCA’
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Robert the Bruce, king of Scotland, is meant to have told his troops that… shortly before walloping the English at Bannockburn in 1314. Apt advice for this recipe, ‘Arroz al horno’ (‘Arrós al forn’ in Valenciano) that has thwarted me a few times! So to truly get to grips with the matter, I headed to the hills for a master class with Amparo from Casa Rural Amarain.
‘Arrós al forn’ is a classic Valencian dish, often overshadowed by paella. It is cooked in the oven in a terracotta dish. Although any round ovenproof dish will do, the size is crucial. You want to have enough room once you have added the stock for all the flavours to be absorbed into the rice, without the rice becoming soggy or worse, dry at the bottom and overcooked on top. Having selected the correct dish for the number of people you are serving, stick closely to the recipe below. The ideal terracotta dish size for these quantities is 32 cm.
Arroz al Horno
(Oven baked rice for 4 people)
• 2 whole morcilla sausage (blood sausages, normal size), cooked whole
• 1 large potato, peeled and sliced
• 1 large tomato, sliced
• 1 tomato, grated (without skin)
• 1 head garlic, unpeeled
• 1/2 kilo mix of pork ribs and pancetta, chopped
• Olive oil
• 5 large tablespoons / 100 gm paella rice (bomba rice)
• Chicken stock, 2 large tablespoons to every measure of rice (i.e., 10 of stock to 5 of rice)
• 1 desert spoon turmeric
• 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
• 1/2 jar cooked chickpeas, soaked first
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan. Fry the potatoes a little, remove from pan. Fry the ribs and pancetta well with a little salt, remove from pan. Fry the morcilla, remove from pan. In the same oil on low heat, fry the grated tomato; add the rice, turmeric and paprika. Stir a little to coat the rice in the tomato and spices. Remove from heat.
Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas mark 3
In a separate pan, bring the stock up to boil with the head of garlic. Season with salt and add a little turmeric. Put the rice in your terracotta with the chickpeas. Pour in the hot stock, measuring carefully and place the head of garlic in the centre. Next arrange the meat, slices of cut tomato and the lightly fried potatoes.
Place the rice, being careful not to burn yourself, in the centre of the pre-heated oven. Cook for 20 minutes and then lower the temperature to 150C / 300F / Gas mark 2 for a further 40 minutes. Be careful not to overbake the ride.
Remove from the oven and leave to rest before serving.
This is a hearty, warming and truly Valencian dish to enjoy and share with friends. And if at first you don’t succeed, try again!