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Japanese Rice Paella in a Frying Pan


(serves 4)
Paella is a culinary gift from the Valencia region of Spain to the rest of the world. In this version we have a combination of meats from land, sea and air, simmered to perfection with saffron-infused rice in the pan.  Not that many people cook Paella because they believe it requires a special variety of rice from Spain and a special cast iron Paella pan. It does not, everybody can cook a reasonably authentic Spanish Paella even if they are not from Spain. My recipe uses Japanese Rice, the ideal substitute rice for Paella.       
 

IngredientsPaella

  1. Prawns (4 large)
  2. Chicken Leg with Thigh (1)
  3. Black Mussels (8)
  4. Smoked Pancetta (80g)
  5. Spicy Chorizo Sausage (80g)
  6. Onion (1)
  7. Tomatoes (1)
  8. Raw Japanese Rice (1 cup)
  9. Lemon (2 wedges)
  10. Saffron Threads
  11. Garlic
  12. Parsley
  13. Paprika
  14. Oregano

Cooking paella is a bit more tricky than other rice dishes and the proportions need to be just right. For this recipe you’ll need a large frying pan that is 11 inches in diameter (top) and 2 inches deep. It can be a slightly bigger but definitely no smaller.

Preparation

  1. Debone the chicken leg and cut the meat into bite sized chunks. Cut the heads off your prawns just behind the carapace and snip off all whiskers. Shell and devein the prawn bodies and slice lengthwise down the middle to bisect each prawn.
  2. Boil 2 cups of water in a pot. Add the chicken bones and prawn heads into the boiling stock pot and keep the stock simmering on a low flame.
  3. In the meanwhile marinate the chicken and prawn meat in a mixture of 2T oil, 1t oregano, 1t chopped parsley, 1t paprika and flat 0.5t of salt.
  4. Julienne the onion into small bits, press enough garlic to get roughly  1T of minced garlic and dice 1 tomato. Furthermore cut the Chorizo into thin slices and the pancetta into small pieces.
  5. Soak and agitate the mussels in some cold water. Strain, then clean and de-beard the mussels.
  6. Drizzle some oil onto your frying pan. Stir fry the chorizo and pancetta on low heat until the fat has been rendered from the meat. Set aside 4 slices of Chorizo and put the remaining slices of Chorizo into the simmering stock pot.
  7. Add the onion to the pan. Continue stir frying on low heat until they begin to brown. Next add one cup of Japanese rice and continue to stir fry for a minute more to coat the rice grains. Stop at this stage until you are almost ready to serve the Paella.
  8. Pour the stock through a strainer into the pan. Add the garlic, tomatoes and the mussels together with 1t paprika, 1t oregano, 1t of saffron threads, 0.5t sugar and the juice from 2 lemon wedges . Top off with enough hot water to bring the water level halfway to the top and bring to a low simmer. Simmer uncovered for about 35 min for the rice to be done.
  9. Arrange the prawns, chicken and the 4 reserved slices of Chorizo in a casserole (or baking tray) and place in a preheated oven. Grill till the prawns twirl up. Remove from the oven and spoon the drippings onto the cooking rice evenly. Mix gently. Return the casserole dish to the oven (now turned off) to keep your meat warm.
  10. When the pan begins to dry, check the rice for texture and decide if you need to add additional hot water – drizzle only a little each time. Too much water will result in mushy paella. Once you are satisfied that the rice is properly fluffed up and at its maximum size, turn up the heat a bit, arrange the meat on the rice.
  11. When there is no more liquid visible and the ‘socarrat’ or crust has formed at the bottom of the pan, turn off the fire and allow the paella to rest for a few minutes on the stove and then serve your paella in the pan itself.

Notes

  • The ideal rice for Paella is a short-grained Spanish variety like Bomba, but those are not easy to buy outside of Europe. Many tend to use Italian Arborio as a substitute because it also happens to be short grained but that is entirely the wrong type of rice to use. Rice meant for risotto cannot absorb too much water without becoming mushy because of its high amylopectin content which is why risotto is eaten wet and al dente. Paella must be cooked until it is dry outside but fully hydrated inside which is what makes Japanese rice ideal in this case.
  • A personal secret ingredient when I cook my paella is cod liver oil. I usually add some diced smoked cod liver and use some of the oil that comes in the tin instead of olive oil. This adds tons of rich seafood flavour.
  • You can also use mussels that were pre-cooked in brine and frozen but pour away the brine. It is very easy for Paella to get overly salty. Sometimes I use clams instead of mussels.
  • Try not to disturb the rice too much. These rice grains are delicate and you don’t want to break them; you can move the rice around a bit as the pan begins to dry to keep the part over the fire from sticking but you definitely do not want to keep stirring continuously like you are cooking a risotto.
  • You will notice I boiled some of the Chorizo in the stock. In my opinion this is the best way to extract its flavour to the rice. Do not add the boiled Chorizo back to the rice, only the Chorizo that was grilled with the chicken can be used as a topping.
 
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Posted by on August 2, 2016 in Japanese, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe, Seafood

 

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Risotto Carbonara


(serves 3)
Here we have an unusual flavour for risotto, the trademark combination of pancetta, parmigiano and raw egg yolk known as Carbonara.
 Arborio rice is a good deal more starchy than pasta so its not as simple as making a carbonara sauce and pouring it over cooked rice. We also desire some bits of other crunchy morsels in the rice to give our risotto a bit more textural variety. Therefore I’ve had to improvise with some other additional ingredients…
 
Ingredients Risotto Carbonara
  1. Cubed Pancetta (300g)
  2. Luncheon Meat (200g)
  3. Bacon (3 slices)
  4. Arborio Rice (1 cup)
  5. Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/4 cup)
  6. Onion (1)
  7. Spring Onion (8 stalks)
  8. Mushrooms (100g)
  9. Butter (40g)
  10. Eggs (2)
  11. Cream (1/2 cup)
  12. Basil
  13. Brandy
  14. Turmeric

Preparation

  1. Start with the stock first. Cut the luncheon meat into 1cm cubes and boil them in 4 cups of water. When the water is boiling, add 3 slices of bacon, 4 stalks of spring onion and 1 flat t of turmeric. Simmer for 1 hour.
  2. While the simmering is going on, fry 300g of cubed pancetta on low heat in a pan. While the pancetta is being fried (you only need to move it occasionally), dice 1 onion finely.
  3. When the lard has been melted off the pancetta, remove the bits of meat, leaving the oil in the pan. Stir fry the onion bit over a low flame in this oil till they begin to caramelize.
  4. Next, add 1 cup of Arborio rice to the pan and continue to stir fry for 5 minutes and then turn off the heat.
  5. Cut the remaining spring onion into small bits, keeping the bits from the bottom half separate from the bits from the top half. Also, slice your mushrooms, and grate 1/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix the cheese with 30g of diced butter.
  6. By this time, the 1 hour on the stock to be up. Keep the fire going under the stock. Reheat the pan on low heat and then ladle some of the boiling stock (liquid only, not the solids) into the rice. Keep the pan on a low simmer, stirring occasionally. Add more stock whenever the rice begins to dry. Add more water to the stock pot when that begins to dry up.
  7. After 20 minutes, add 1/4 cup cream, 3T of brandy and 1t of sugar. Then mix in the mushroom slices, 1T of chopped basil and the white portion of the chopped spring onions.
  8. Soon thereafter the rice will get to the al dente stage. At that time turn off the heat and add another 1/4 cup of cream, 2 egg yolks, the pancetta bits and the cheese-butter mixture. Give everything a thorough mixing and keep covered for 10 minutes while the rice fluffs up.
  9. You shouldn’t need to add any salt but taste for saltiness anyway, just in case. Plate and serve immediately after the 10 minutes is up. Sprinkle on some black pepper and use the remaining green part of the chopped spring onions as garnishing.

Notes

  • If you are making risotto for the first time, refer to this earlier recipe for more details on risotto making.
  • If you like Carbonara, you might be interested in my Lagsana Carbonara or Fettucine Carbonara recipes.
  • I normally don’t add cream to my risotto, but this is a Cabonara after all.
  • For this recipe both the smoked or sweetened pancetta varieties are suitable.  
 
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Posted by on October 18, 2013 in A Kobi Original, Italian, Main Courses, Recipe

 

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Chestnut and Garlic Soup


(serves 6-8)
There is nothing like some hot Chestnut Soup to warm you up when its chilly outside. The one problematic thing with chestnut soup is the sweetness of chestnuts. When it comes to this particular genre of soups, its very easy to cross the line from soup to dessert. Thats where the garlic and pancetta in my recipe come in.  All said, this is a simple recipe, with only a few ingredients, but the result is a whole bowl of yummy goodness. 
 

Ingredients Chestnut Soup

  1. Peeled Chestnuts (600g)
  2. Pancetta (150g)
  3. Garlic (8 cloves = 0.5 bulb)
  4. Chicken Stock Cubes (2)
  5. Bourbon
  6. Nutmeg
  7. Oregano
  8. Sage

Preparation 

  1. Seal the peeled chestnuts in a gallon zip-loc bag with most of the air squeezed out. Bash the chestnuts with a meat mallet or rolling pin till the chestnut is reduced to little bits.
  2. In a pot with 4 cups of boiling water, dissolve 2 chicken stock cubes.
  3. Add the chestnuts to the pot and simmer for ninety minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. In the meanwhile peel half a bulb of garlic and put the cloves through the garlic press for mincing. 
  5. Next, fry 150g of cubed pancetta on low heat in a pan until the fat has pretty much melted and the pancetta begins to crisp. Add the garlic and continue to fry til the garlic starts to brown nicely. Immediately turn off the heat and add a cup of water to stop the garlic from getting burnt.
  6. When the ninety minutes is up, your chestnut bits should have soften nicely. Blend the chestnut pieces into a watery puree using an immersion blender. Chestnuts are pretty tough so you’ll need to stir the blender around the pot on high power for about 30 seconds to whip the soup into a nice creamy texture.
  7. Add the contents of the pan into the pot and bring to a simmer again. Add 2t sage, 1t nutmeg and 1t oregano, 2T of bourbon. Maintain the simmer for fifteen minutes so the crispy pancetta can soak in some moisture.
  8. Towards the end, add water to bring your soup to the consistency you like. Sprinkle with black pepper, taste and add salt til the soup tastes just right. Garnish with a bit of chopped parsley.

Notes

  • Nowadays you can just buy peeled chestnuts but if you are starting off with raw chestnuts, cut a cross on the shell (so they don’t explode) and roast them in an oven for 20 minutes at about 200oC before peeling them.   
  • Chestnuts are naturally sweet so you’ll want to use the smoked or affumicata type of pancetta. Pancetta is seasoned with lots of herbs so they release a really nice complex taste into the soup. Don’t be tempted to drain off the oil that melts into the pan, that’s where the flavour lies. There is more than enough starch from the chestnuts to emulsify the oil so your soup won’t be oily.
  • Tip: add a teaspoon of miso in place of salt for that extra dimension of flavour.
 
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Posted by on January 29, 2013 in A Kobi Original, English, Recipe, Soups

 

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Roast Chicken Soup


(serves 6)
This is a wholesome soup that I invented after much experimenting to capture the meaty goodness of roast chicken. It’s got chunks of roasted chicken and pancetta, croutons of baked carrots and mushrooms. Trust me, you won’t be able to think of anything else but roast chicken while the soup is swirling around in your mouth. Kobi’s hearty roast chicken soup is a meal in itself, perfect for those winter months.   

Ingredients (Roast Chicken)

  1. Chicken Legs with Thigh (4)
  2. Diced Pancetta (80g)
  3. Rosemary 
  4. Thyme

Ingredients (Soup)

  1. Onion (2)
  2. Carrot (1)
  3. Brown Mushrooms (100g)
  4. Butter (50g)
  5. Milk (1 cup)
  6. Flour
  7. Chicken Stock Cube (1)
  8. Brandy

Preparation 

  1. You have to first roast four chicken legs according to this recipe.
  2. While the chicken is in the oven, dice your onions into 1/2 inch pieces and then stir fry them in 50g of butter under very low heat until they caramelize. It should take about 25 minutes. Turn the heat off when the onions are, a deep shade of brown and leave the pan on the stove.
  3. When the chicken is cooked, place 3 legs into a pot with 4 cups of boiling water. Set to simmer and add a dissolved chicken stock cube. Set aside the fourth leg, you’ll be using it later. Pour the drippings (including the pancetta) into the frying pan with the onions.
  4. Degalze the baking tray with some of the boiling chicken stock, and after some light scraping, pour the mixture back into the chiken stock.  
  5. Dice your carrot into small cubes and then cut the mushrooms into pieces which are about 3x larger than the carrots (because they will shrink). Put the carrots and mushrooms into the baking tray and stir well with 2T olive oil. Bake this for 25 minutes in the oven at 175oC (350oF) .
  6. After the chiken has simmered for at least an hour, take the chicken legs out. Mash the meat of one leg with your hands till you get loose fibres of meat and put this back in the stock. Discard the other 2 boiled legs.
  7. Set the heat to medium for the frying pan with the onions. When the pan is hot, sprinkle in 2T of plain flour and reduce the heat to low. Stir fry for two minutes or so to cook the flour and then pour in 1 cup of milk 1/5 cup at a time, stirring all the time to prevent lumping. You should end up with a thick brown soup base.
  8. Stir in 2 ladles of the chick stock to the pan slowly to thin down the soup base even more. Pour the resulting mixture back into the soup pot. Boil for another 5 minutes.
  9. When its time to serve the soup, add 2T of brandy and a sprinkle of black pepper, and reboil. Shred the meat of the last chicken leg (the one that wasn’t boiled). Add the chicken meat only after you turn the heat off. Taste to see if you wish to add salt. Ladle the soup into serving dishes and sprinkle on the roasted carrots and mushrooms.  

Notes

  • For those of you interested in french cuisine terminology, flour fried in butter is called roux. If you add milk to roux, it becomes béchamel sauce. If you had added the chicken stock without the milk, it would have become a velouté sauce instead. Since we added both milk and chicken stock, I have no idea what that is called…cream soup I guess.
  • You can use leftover chicken, so make a double batch of roast chicken, that way you can eat your chicken and drink it too (at a later meal).
 
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Posted by on October 24, 2011 in A Kobi Original, English, Poultry, Recipe, Soups

 

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Herb Roasted Chicken Legs


(serves 2 for meal, 4 for snack)
This is a simple way of roasting really delicious chicken legs. If there is one meat you need to roast well, its chicken. Roast chicken is the intermediate ingredient for many other wonders of the kitchen, like chicken sandwiches and chicken salads. Some herbs in the marinate and pancetta, a type of Italian bacon, is all you really need to bring out the best flavours in your roast chicken. Best of all, this recipe is easy, good for those times you can’t afford to expend too much effort preparing food.   

Ingredients

  1. Chicken Legs with Thigh (4)
  2. Diced Pancetta (80g)
  3. Rosemary 
  4. Thyme

Preparation 

  1. Trim off the loose flaps of skin on the chicken if any and pad with paper towels to dry them. If you have time, leave the chicken in the fridge uncovered for a few hours to dry it out, but this is an optional step you can skip if you don’t have time.
  2. Dissolve 1t of salt in 3T of olive oil and then add 1.5t rosemary, 1.5t thyme and 0.5t pepper. Mix well.
  3. Marinate the chicken and then leave the legs in a baking pan for an hour for the flavor to set in. The herbs like to stick to the parts of the chicken with no skin, so make sure the herbs cover the chicken evenly.
  4. Sprinkle the diced pancetta on and around the chicken (see the photo below).
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes in the oven preheated to 175oC (350oF) depending on the size of the legs. Increase the temperature to 200oC for the last 10 minutes if you like your chicken browned to a bronze shade.
  6. That’s basically it, but there are a few options you can pick from for the chicken drippings (including the pancetta bits).
    1. Meal – Boil two potatoes ahead of time and roughly mash the potatoes in the drippings and 1/4 cup milk.
    2. Snack – Mix 1 t dijon mustard into the drippings to make a nice mustard gravy.
    3. Sandwich – If you are going to make roast chicken sandwiches, just shred the chicken meat and then drench the meat with the drippings (plus 2T mayonnaise if you want it creamy).

Notes

  • Pancetta can be bought pre-diced at the right supermarket/deli. There are usually two flavours, savoury and sweet. Make sure you don’t buy the sweet type (labled dolce) by accident.
  • In case you were wondering. Pancetta is salt cured, seasoned with spices like nutmeg and fennel, and matured over a period of at least 3 months. It may look similar to but its not the same as bacon.
  • Can you use chicken breasts instead? Yes. But you should brine them first, and the recipe won’t be simple anymore. Also, its crucial to get the cooking time exact for breasts. When you breasts begin to shrink a bit, that’s when they are ready.
 
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Posted by on October 16, 2011 in English, Main Courses, Poultry, Recipe

 

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