Sunday, May 6, 2012

Arroz Valenciana

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs

This dish is one of my Mom's favorite holiday dishes. She was really good at making this but I just don't have her patience when it comes to cooking flavored rice over very low heat in an open fire kiln. She was just like me though in that when I try to help her, she would drive me away because she claimed it was too dirty or there was too much smoke and I will get dirty. She never minded it for herself but she always babied me when it came to cooking in our outdoor kitchen. However, I do the same to her in our gas range and she knows not to ask me what I'm doing when I'm cooking in the kitchen. 

My cousin in Illinois also loves this dish along with their friends and we actually feasted on this last December for the New Year's Eve party. I definitely have made the simplified version of this dish before where you cook the rice separately and you add the rest of the components later but I want to try my Mom's method of cooking it in one pot. Dubbed as a poor man's paella, this dish is definitely not poor in taste. Traditionally cooked with glutinous rice, sushi rice makes an excellent substitute. What makes this a bit different is that you color the dish with turmeric powder which gives it this vibrant yellow color in contrast to paella which is more reddish orange from the saffron strands. Another issue is the addition of raisins which lends a sweet undertone to the dish. Most important of all, the meat used are the less expensive cuts of meat from chicken or pork livers to really fatty pieces of meat which give a rich flavor to the dish.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
Another important ingredient is the Chinese sausage. Usually readily available in Oriental stores, it can be a bit of a challenge finding them sometimes depending on where you live. But if you really cannot find one, any aged sausage will do. For this version, I'm doing away with the liver component and will use a leaner cut of meat since my Dad can only eat lean cuts of meat.The other issue is that I requested that this dish be cooked the traditional way in a large wok lined with banana leaves. You can do away with this method by baking the rice in the oven in a large baking pan covered with foil at 350°F. You lose the aroma lent by the banana leaves but you still end up with a wonderfully cooked Valenciana. The recipe below is good to feed about 10-15 people. You can cut the rice and turmeric powder in half while keeping the rest of the ingredients the same amount if you would like to cook a smaller batch of Valenciana. 


2 lb lean pork, diced
2 lb chicken breast, deboned and diced
2 cups frozen peas
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 large onion, diced
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
5 Chinese sausages, diced
1 cup raisins
9-10 cups sticky rice (or sushi rice)
chicken broth
4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp turmeric powder
3 dried bay leaves
salt and pepper
hard-boiled eggs and green onions (to garnish)

1. Heat the oil in a large wok at medium heat. Saute the garlic and onions
    and season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened. Add the bay
    leaves and mix well.

2. Add the pork and season with salt and pepper and cook until it loses its
    pink color.

3. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until
    the chicken loses its pink color. Add the Chinese sausage and mix well. 

4. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the turmeric powder and check for

5. Add the rice and stir into the mixture. Add the peppers, frozen peas and

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
At this point, you can transfer the whole mixture into a wok lined with banana leaves or you can transfer the mixture into a large roasting pan to be baked at 350°F. It needs to be covered with more banana leaves or foil whichever method you are using and cooked or baked at a simmer until the rice is fully cooked. If using a wok with the banana leaves, you need to cover the rice mixture with more layers of leaves topped with a heavy cover to prevent the steam from escaping. If needed, you can add more broth is the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is not yet fully cooked.

To serve, it is best served in the wok or the roasting pan that was used to cook the dish. Garnish with slices of hard-boiled eggs and a sprinkle of thinly sliced green onions.

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