A lot of good things happened this week. Sally said ma-ma! I turned 27. My sister and my mom and Alex's parents and his grandmother all came down for the day, and our friend Tracy brought over the season's first lilac blooms. Two of my best friends moved home for the summer, and our garden grew one of the fattest spears of asparagus I've ever seen.
Some not so good things happened too. Sally bit me; we both cried. All three of us got a terrible cold, and we found a bunny living under our shed. I've only seen him eating clover so far, but his hideout is right next to the garden, and I know it's only a matter of time. We're going tomorrow to borrow a Have-a-Heart from a friend.
In the kitchen, my mom and I made two rhubarb pies, and my sister and I made Arroz con Pollo twice. The recipe comes from a blog she reads, A Cozy Kitchen. The dish is supposed to be chicken with rice, but I made it once with oat groats and once with a grab bag of oat groats, farro, and brown rice–we've already used up two grains from our CSA!—and both times it came out tasting absolutely fabulous. I used a good amount of homemade crushed tomatoes in my version (the last ones! good thing those new plants are in the greenhouse), and the second time we added shrimp and seafood stock for a more paella-esque rendition.
However you make it, it's comfort food at its best. How has your week been?
ARROZ (OAT GROATS) CON POLLO
I have never really liked rice. This drives Alex nuts. It's helpful when it comes to eating locally, though, because there is no local rice and there are lots of other great New England-grown grains. I like this best with oat groats, but it's also great with farro, and now that we're out of both of those, I'm thinking rye berries might be nice. If you want to go in a paella direction, try adding some Maine shrimp for the last 15 minutes of cooking and using seafood stock instead of chicken stock.
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 assorted chicken pieces
1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon saffron threads
a pinch of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
1 pint crushed tomatoes
1 and 3/4 cups oat groats or farro
2 cups chicken stock
Warm up the oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the chicken, skin side down and brown for about 5 minutes. Flip it and brown the other side for about 3 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion to the pot. Sauté for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent, then add the garlic. Cook for another minute, until you just start to smell it, then add the carrots and the spices and and pour in the crushed tomatoes. Bring everything to a boil, add the grains, and stir until they're thoroughly coated. Arrange the chicken on top, pour in the stock, and cover the pot. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for about half an hour.
Take the top off and check on the dish—if there's still a lot of liquid, uncover the pot, if not, leave it covered—and simmer for another 15-25 minutes. Taste for salt, season as needed, and serve hot.