Some days are rainy. The store is far, the spirits are low. Dinner definitely needs to come from within the house. Supplies run short. Creative minds must blossom in these circumstances. Armed with a frozen chorizo link, a can of sardines in tomato sauce, one onion and a lot of rice, I set to work.
Having spent a significant amount of time in Latin America, I’m well accquainted with the food group I like to call “Rice with stuff in it”. This includes Moros y Cristianos, Arroz con Pollo even Paella. Long used to extend the meat and vegetables as long as possible, it was the perfect adaptation for my meal. There are a few pretty simple rules to making it delicious.
1) Flavor first: I knew my main flavors came from sauteeing the onion in butter, so that went first, followed by the sardines in tomato sauce.
2) If you have a liquid besides water, use it to add more flavor. I had a cube of duck stock leftover, so I tossed it in with the water and rice.
3) Add spices early on, so they get the chance to really absorb into all of the food. I hit this with some curry powder as I added the chorizo, about 5 minutes in to the cooking.
4) You can add almost anything, but the key is to keep flavors really strong, as the water for cooking the rice can dilute it. That is why chorizo and sardines work well. You’ll see this with chicken a lot, but the key is that this chicken has already been heavily seasoned and or marinated, so don’t just toss it in and expect it to taste good.
For those days when the cabinet seems so empty, “Rice with stuff in it” is always a great answer. The best part often is at the end, when you realize your delicious, quick, inside the house meal only used a grand total of one pot.
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