Yield
Serves 8

In their splendid The Heritage of Spanish Cooking, Alicia Rios and Lourdes March say that in the Valencian mountain interior, rice dishes are based on the broth of a cocido — a dish of boiled meats. The recipe is adapted from one in their book. In Spain today you can buy good cocido broth, but here, use beef or chicken stock.

Use a cazuela or a large shallow casserole that will go both on the stove and in the oven. If you do not have one, start the dish in a deep saucepan, then transfer it to a baking dish. A head of garlic (Valencians call it a "partridge") is placed in the center. Serve it with meatballs or with fried pork ribs and sausages or blood sausages.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked (see Soaking Beans below)
  • Salt
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • A head of garlic, not peeled
  • 1 cup dried currants or raisins, soaked in water for 20 minutes and drained
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon pimentón dulce (or sweet paprika)
  • 5 cups meat or chicken stock (or 5 cups water plus 1-1/2 to 2 bouillon cubes)
  • 2-1/2 cups medium-grain Spanish paella rice or risotto rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli


Instructions

1. Drain the chickpeas, put them in a saucepan with fresh water to cover, and simmer for 1 hour, or until they are soft; add some salt once they have begun to soften. Drain.

2. Heat the oil in a large cazuela or casserole that goes in the oven. Add the garlic and half the currants or raisins and stir over low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato and pimentón (or paprika) and stir well, then add the chickpeas, stock, and some salt. Bring to a boil, add the rice, and stir well.

3. Place the head of garlic in the center of the rice and sprinkle the remaining currants or raisins over the top. Bake in a preheated 400°F oven for 30 minutes, or until the rice is tender.

4. When serving, give everyone a garlic clove for them to squeeze out the soft inside.

Note: If you do not have a large casserole or a cazuela, start the cooking in a large saucepan and just bring to a boil, then pour everything into a large round baking dish, about 14 inches in diameter. Put the garlic head in the center and bake as above.

Soaking Beans: Beans can be cooked without soaking, but they will take much longer to cook. There are two ways of soaking them to reduce the cooking time:

1. Soak the beans in plenty of water for 6 to 10 hours.

2. The quicker method is to boil the washed beans in plenty of water in a large saucepan for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat, cover the pan, and let the beans soak for 1 hour.

Always drain and then cook in fresh water.

From The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden (Ecco, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2011). Copyright © 2011 by Claudia Roden. Used with permission of the publisher.