So after I bleated on and on about how I was going to start using my army of cookbooks, (and I mean really use them; staring at the pictures doesn’t cut it any more), I kind of didn’t. I ran straight off and pinched a this recipe for Arozz Verde Al Horno from the wonderful Tim of www.lottieanddoof.com fame. His result was definitely more attractive than mine (and infinitely better photographed), but I was pretty delighted all the same.
Working my way through the first few steps of this dish, I felt positively healthful. Filling the blender with all kinds of green stuffs just does that to me. I couldn’t get my hands on the epazote which Tim states in his recipe (boo! I so wanted to find this,) so I threw a little extra green pepper into the blender with the cilantro, chilli, garlic and chicken stock.
This all gets whizzed together into a slightly frothy, pea-green broth, in which I simmered the rice for about 20 minutes. See what I mean? Cooking with all this greenness, my kitchen all fragrant with herbs, I felt like the kind of person who might get up before work for a little run. Trust me, I’m not, but it was a nice thought.
Anyway, I put all that healthy fantasy behind me once the rice was done, and I was combining it with cups and cups of cheese and heavy cream. It really cranks up a gear at this stage, and I didn’t win any diet points by frying off some pancetta and throwing that in too.
The whole thing then goes into an oven-proof dish and bakes for another 20 minutes or so, with a final handful of cheese sprinkled on top to brown. All that’s left then is to break through that bubbling cheese top and serve – if, that is, you can manage not to stuff your face into the dish right there and then.
So for me, this dish is the Britney Spears of recipes. It starts off so Mickey Mouse Club and wholesome, but before you know it it’s missing court dates and shaving its head in public. Okay, bad metaphor. I don’t much like Britney, but I’m god damned evangelical about this dish. Stop what you’re doing and make it right away. Don’t stop to sleep or wash. Okay, maybe wash.
Here’s the recipe I followed:
Arroz Verde al Horno (Green Rice Casserole, recipe courtesy of Mercadito/Chef Patricio Sandoval)
- 1 poblano chile, seeds removed
- 1 green bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, loosely packed
- 1/4 cup epazote leaves, loosely packed
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup chopped Spanish onion
- 2 cups long grain rice
- 1 1/2 cups grated Oaxaca cheese
- 1 1/2 cups grated Manchego cheese
- 1 cup heavy cream
Place first six ingredients in a blender and puree well. Set aside. Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat until melted, add onion and sauté for 1 minute. Add the green broth and bring to a boil, add a couple of tablespoons of salt and taste (the broth should be very salty). Add the rice to the the broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 15-25 minutes. (Check after 15 minutes and stir with spoon, continue cooking if needed)
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a large bowl, combine rice, 1 cup of oaxaca cheese, 1 cup manchego cheese, and heavy cream and stir to combine. Place rice mixture in one large casserole dish or several individual dishes and sprinkle tops with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes, and then transfer to broiler to brown the cheese on top.