Main Dish Spanish Rice

July 10, 2012

Aunt Suzy says . . .

This dish was inspired by a recipe in Sheila Lukin’s All Around the World Cookbook.  It was a somewhat typical recipe for the Mexican dish we know as Spanish Rice, with Chorizo and an abundance of tomatoes added.  I thought it would be even better with lots of vegetables and started building my recipe from there.  I make a vegetarian version of this just as often as I make the recipe with Chorizo – instructions and ingredients for both are included.  I thought to make this because we had an open bottle of Spanish Rioja, which turned out to be an excellent match.  A Mexican beer – light or dark – goes really well also.  I often serve this with orange and avocado salad as it complements the richness of the dish.  I made a watermelon-cucumber salad yesterday, which also was a refreshing companion.  In addition to use as a main dish, this can be served as a side to grilled fish/meat or tamales.

Please note this makes a mega amount (8-10 servings), so the recipe can be easily halved, although leftovers at a later date are delicious.

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium white or yellow onion, small dice

1 large or 2 medium carrots, small dice

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

2 Spanish-style Chorizo sausages, fully cooked, split lengthwise and sliced in half-moons (omit for vegetarian)

1/2-1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, rinsed and diced, use for vegetarian

2 cups long-grain brown rice

1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted

3 cups chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth (water for vegetarian)

1 summer squash (yellow or zucchini), diced

2 cups green beans, ends trimmed and snapped in half

1-2 cans black beans, use for vegetarian

3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

Drain the tomatoes, using a strainer over a quart measuring cup.  Add enough chicken stock or water to the strained liquid to measure 3 1/2 cups.  You may not use all 3 cups of stock/water.  Set aside the liquid and the drained tomatoes.

Steam or simmer the green beans to desired doneness.  I like just past tender crisp for this dish.  Drain and set aside.

Heat a large saute pan on medium-high heat and add the olive oil.  Once shimmering, add the onion and carrots.  Turn down heat to medium and saute for about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and Chorizo and saute for 2-3 more minutes.  For vegetarian, add the garlic and the chipotle pepper.  Next add the rice and saute for another 4 or so minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the tomatoes, the 3 1/2 cups of liquid and the diced summer squash.  Bring to a bubble, then turn down heat and simmer, covered, until done, 50-60 minutes.

When liquid is fully absorbed, remove from heat and let rest for 10 minutes.  Stir to combine ingredients, then stir in the green beans, black beans if using, and any other vegetables you are using.  Let sit for a few minutes to heat up these last additions.  Finally, stir in the cilantro or parsley or pass these for garnish at the table.

NOTES ON INGREDIENTS:  I do not salt and pepper this dish due to the high salt content of many of the ingredients.  I find it plenty flavorful without either, but add according to your taste.  When making the meat version, I like to use AmyLu’s Chicken Chorizo, but I have used pork Chorizo and both chicken and pork Andouille sausage in this dish.  Make sure you are using fully cooked vs. fresh Mexican Chorizo sausage.  The original recipe called for white rice, but once I started using brown rice the dish with white paled in comparison :-). I’ve been thinking this would be nice with 2 cups of diced fresh tomatoes during season (vs. the canned), but haven’t tried it.  Other vegetables can be added such as green peas or corn, and I think this would be good with thinly sliced radishes and avocado as garnish.  Lots of options!

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Aunt Suzy says . . .

Thank goodness it’s gotten back to normal fall weather!  The first 11 days of October were 80 degrees up here in the northern climes of Minnesota – unheard of!  At first I loved how warm it was, but after a few days I starting yearning for the cool, crisp air of fall.  Since our temps are more autumn-like now, I thought it was time for a pot of chili.  I’m always looking for unusual recipes for chili so this one caught my eye.  Chili purists may argue with this approach, but this recipe is really tasty.  Randy says that it needs to become part of our regular rotation, if for no other reason than it makes the house smell fabulous!  We served it with Harvey Cornbread – a must around here with a bowl of chili, no matter what kind it is.  A dark beer or glass of Zinfandel (that isn’t too high in alcohol) taste great with this dish.

November 2012 update:  We served this over brown rice and loved it.  I think we might serve this way from now on!

Margaux says…

This was definitely a hit in my house, too!  I always love anything with butternut squash in it, and my husband and sister-in-law both liked it as well, especially because of how spicy it is.  The only downside to making things on the spicy side around here is that I have to come up with something different for my son to eat…he used to like spicy foods, but everything now has to be served mild and at room temperature for his sensitive toddler tongue!

The only different thing I’ll do next time is just go ahead and throw a fourth sausage in (they come 4 to a package, and it would have been just as good with the extra sausage in it).  Otherwise, it was great!

Makes 6-8 servings, more if you serve over rice

1 small butternut squash

Canola Oil – for roasting the squash and for sauteing the sausage

3 soft chorizo sausages, split lengthwise then sliced in 1/4-inch half moons (I used AmyLu’s chicken chorizo available at Whole Foods)

1 large yellow onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 poblano pepper, membranes and seeds removed, cut in ½-inch pieces

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2-3 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon ground coriander

28-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes (I used Fire Roasted)

2-3 cups chicken stock (depending on how “brothy” you want the chili)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon sriracha, plus extra for serving

1 bay leaf

1 large can of black beans, drained and rinsed (2 cups)

salt and pepper to taste

Fresh cilantro leaves, chopped for serving

Chopped fresh avocado for serving

Prepare the squash: Preheat the oven to 400.  Cut the butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.  Cut in 1/2-3/4-inch slices.  Line a large jelly-roll pan with foil and spread a little canola oil over the surface.  Place the slices of squash on the oiled foil, turning once to coat both sides.  Bake for a total of 15 minutes, turning slices over half-way through.  Remove from oven and place cooked slices on a platter to cool.  When cool, peel and cut into 1/2-inch dice.  Set aside 3 cups of the diced squash. (Set aside any additional squash for another use.)

Make the chili:  Heat 1 tablespoon of the canola oil in a stockpot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage pieces and saute for about 5 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Set aside.

Add the onion to the pot and saute for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the peppers; saute 3-5 more minutes, until all begin to soften. Add the garlic and stir to blend, cooking an additional minute. Add the dry spices and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.  Add the tomato paste and stir to blend.  Add the tomatoes with their juices, the chicken stock, the reserved cooked sausage, the Sriracha and bay leaf. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Stir in the cubed squash and black beans. Simmer 15 more minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.  NOTE:  I felt that additional salt was not necessary, given both the sausage and tomatoes added plenty of salt.

Serve in bowls garnished with cilantro, chopped avocado and a drizzle of sriracha.

NOTE:  Like many recipes of this ilk, all quantities are subject to adjustment.  I used more chili powder and more chicken stock than originally called for, as an example.