Episode 5: Arroz con Pollo, Fennel-Orange Salad and Raspberry Clafoutis

April 12, 2009

This week, I make a yummy early-spring dinner of Arroz con Pollo–saffron rice with chicken–with a crunchy fennel salad on the side. And there’s time for dessert–an eggy, fruity clafoutis with raspberries.


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Shopping list

Chicken thighs
Rice (short- or long-grain–your call)
Yellow onion
Red bell pepper
Frozen peas
Fresh fennel bulb
Olive oil
Chambord (or some other fruit-flavored booze–see recipe)
Frozen raspberries

Arroz con Pollo

Arroz con PolloThe name “rice with chicken” is deceptive–it doesn’t mention the delicious saffron that really makes this dish. Pretty much every country in the Spanish-speaking world has a variant recipe, but those from outside Spain often leave out the saffron–making it, in my mind, another dish entirely. Don’t forget the squeeze of lemon at the end–it really makes the dish.

For 2 dinner servings, and generous lunch leftovers
3 chicken thighs
1 medium yellow onion
1/2 large red bell pepper
3 or 4 cloves garlic
Large pinch saffron
1 1/4 cups short-grain rice (long-grain works too, but has a fluffier texture)
2 cups water or (optionally) chicken stock
About 1 cup frozen peas, or more if you like (I like!)
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350. Heat a large, heavy Dutch oven or similar pot over med-high heat and add just a bit of olive oil. Set the chicken thighs in to brown, skin side down. When skin is good and crispy (you’ll know it’s getting there because it will no longer stick to the pan), flip them and brown the other side.

While the chicken is browning, slice up the onion in thin slices lengthwise. Cut the red pepper into half-inch-or-so dice. Peel the garlic and crush or chop into coarse pieces.

When the chicken is nicely browned on both sides, remove it from the pan and set it aside on a plate. Pour off just about all the accumulated chicken fat from the pot (have a small bowl ready for this), then add another small drizzle of olive to the pot. Add the onions and red peppers, plus a couple of pinches of salt, and stir and fry–still over med-high heat, though you might want to turn it down just a bit, as the pan will have gotten quite hot by the end of the chicken-browning.

While the onions and peppers are frying, remove the skin from the chicken and discard–it should come off easily in one piece.

onionsWhen the onions and peppers are softened (as in the photo), and the onions translucent (this takes a couple of minutes), add the saffron and stir to distribute it. Add the crushed garlic and fry for another 30 seconds or so. Then pour in the rice and stir until nicely coated with oil. Pour in the water (or stock, if using) and scrape around the bottom of the pan to get up all the nice browned bits and work them into the mix.

Finally, nestle the chicken thighs in with the rice, and make sure to pour in any chicken juices that have accumulated on the plate. Put the lid on the pot and slide the whole thing into the oven. Bake for about 15 minutes, then gently stir in the frozen peas (straight from the freezer–no need to defrost). Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until rice is soft (with short-grain rice, it will also be a bit sticky) and the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with wedges of lemon, to squeeze over the finished dish.

Chicken Arroz Con Pollo on FoodistaArroz Con Pollo

Fennel-Orange Salad

fennel-orangeA great easy salad (it makes its own dressing!), this adds a little fresh crunch on the side. It’s especially good in winter, when you can get both good fennel and good oranges, but the soft flavor of the fennel is nice in spring as well. If you want the salad to be a little more intense, you can also throw in some good-quality black olives.

For 2 side servings
1/2 medium fennel bulb
1 medium orange
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Slice off all the green stalks of the fennel–these are too tough to eat, no matter how pretty they look. (You can save some of the green fronds to throw on top of the salad, though, for a little more color and flavor.) Cut the bulb in half lengthwise, and then cut out the core on one of the halves. Slice that half into relatively thin slices–about 1/8 inch thick. Put all these in a serving bowl.

004Slice the peel off an orange, then slice into half-rounds, picking out the seeds as you go. Scrape the orange slices into the bowl with the fennel, along with any juice that’s on the cutting board. Drizzle a bit of olive oil over the fennel and orange slices, add a pinch of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and toss. Let sit a bit before serving, if you have time, to let the flavors mix.

Raspberry Clafoutis

clafoutisClafoutis (cla-foo-TEE, if you’re feeling Frenchy; cla-FOO-teez, if you’re feeling juvenile) is a great versatile eggy dessert that’s incredibly simple and not too sweet. Straight out of the oven, it’s like fluffy custard studded with fruit; by the next day, it has settled into a denser, eggier treat that you can eat in big wedges for breakfast. Cherries are traditional, but you can use any firm fruit or berry–and frozen works just fine. I used 1 1/2 cups of fruit when I was recording this episode, but the batter can definitely support more. You can match the booze flavor to your fruit (kirsch is used with cherries, for instance) if you have it, or add any kind of fruit liqueur or brandy, or even rum…or skip the booze entirely.

Serves 8
1 tablespoon butter
6 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Chambord (only if you happen to have it!)
5 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 cups milk
Pinch salt
3/4 cup flour
1 1/2 or 2 cups frozen raspberries

Preheat oven to 425. Set butter in large (10-inch or so) cast-iron skillet–if you’re working fast, you can put the skillet (with the butter in it) into the oven now to preheat. Otherwise, do it about 5 minutes before you’re ready to put the clafoutis in the oven.

Crack the eggs into a blender. (You can also mix the batter by hand, if you don’t have a blender.) Then add all the remaining ingredients, except for the raspberries. Whiz this up in the blender for about 15 seconds. Check to make sure all the flour has gotten mixed in, and isn’t stuck to the sides of the blender. It can rest here, in the blender, for hours if need be (though stick it in the fridge if it’ll be more than an hour).

clafoutis-batterPull the preheated skillet from the oven, tilting it to spread the butter all around and up the sides. If your batter has been sitting for a while, give it another quick whiz, then pour it into the hot skillet. Drop the raspberries evenly into the batter (as in the photo).

Stick it all in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes, until it is puffed up and brown on top. Sadly, it will deflate almost as soon as it comes out of the oven, but it still tastes great–and actually tastes even better if you can have the patience to let it cool for at least half an hour.

Berry Clafouti on FoodistaBerry Clafouti

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Melissa Peterman 05.13.10 at 12:21 pm

Huge fan of clafouti! Looking forward to cherry season to make a cherry clafouti. Thanks for the delicious reminder!

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