Traditional Spanish soupy chicken rice: the only one you eat with a spoon
Happy New year! Yes, we are beyond half way into January, but I have been absent for so long and I still owe this good wish. On the good side, I have had a very good, long time off (how necessary!). However, I couldn’t travel to visit my grandparents as planned. A few family members got COVID-19 and considering the travel requirements on PCR tests and isolation I thought it was not worth to take the risk. The trip is therefore postponed, hoping to make it with more peace of mind.
Throughout the past couple of weeks I have then tried to recreate what I would have cooked with my grandmothers. I cooked a chicken croquettes, but the look of them wasn’t too nice to be shown here-though the taste was superb. Also, I did another grandma Dolores’ masterpiece: her soupy rice. The final result this time was so much better that I decided it would be the first recipe of 2022.
It’s fair to say the recreation wasn’t totally accurate. First, because you can never cook as good as your nans (obvious). Second, because she uses a special pan for soupy rices-hers is very old, by the way. And third, and most important, because she cooks it with rabbit instead of chicken. This is very important to remark because my grandfather (her husband) has been a farmer all his life and has grown a variety of livestock. My father would tell me that he used to farm pigs and goats back on the day. In recent times, all I remember is seeing him surrounded by rabbits and chickens in his farmyard. Imagine then preparing this meal with homegrown meat. You just cannot beat that!
The cooking process is almost similar to a paella. All you need to bear in mind is the larger amount of stock you need in order to achieve the soupy texture. If a normal paella needs 2 to 3 parts to one of rice, a soupy rice needs 4,5 to 5. The rice starch will make its magic while boiling and you will eventually get a perfect winter warmer for this time of the year. We all love a delicious paella, but isn’t it true that it evokes more summery days? If you this one you will still enjoy a good rice recipe the Spanish way, just like my grandmother (almost) does.
INGREDIENTS (SERVES 4)
Paella rice (300 g)
Chicken stock (1300 ml)
Chicken thighs (6 to 8 pieces)
Red pepper (half)
Green pepper (half)
Onion (half large / 1 small)
Garlic clove (1)
Chopped tomato (3 tbsp)
Smoked paprika (1 teaspoon)
Turmeric (2 teaspoons)
DIRECTIONS FOR COOKING
In a deep pan such a wok, heat up a generous amount of olive oil. Slice the garlic clove and fry it for one minute. Remove it, set aside for later and sear the chicken thighs at high heat. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and pepper in both sides. Once they are golden brown, remove and set aside.
2. Chop the pepper and the onion and simmer in the same olive oil with the garlic you have previously used. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Once they are tender, add the smoked paprika and the turmeric. Stir and cook for one minute at low heat.
3. Add the tomato and increase the heat until the water evaporates. Then, return the chicken thighs to the pan (juices included) and cook for a couple of minutes so all the flavours merge into each other.
4. Pour the chicken stock and heat at medium-high power. When it starts boiling, drop the rice and cook for almost 15 minutes or until the broth turns from liquid to thick. Stir frequently to stimulate the starch to come out of the grains. Add more salt if needed and an additional teaspoon of turmeric if you wish.
5. Unlike paella, a soupy rice neither needs to sit before eating nor being finished in the oven. Just serve it in a bowl while it’s still steamy.