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Rice with a Crust - Arroz con Costra

Rice with a Crust

This curious baked rice with an egg crust, which comes from Elche and Orihuela, is one of the oldest of the region. A remarkably similar recipe appears in the 14th century Libre del Coch, by Ruperto de Nola--whom some think was Valencian. In his recipe, it is cooked over direct heat, with ashes on the lid of the pan, a method that still survives in the countryside around Elche and Orihuela. But usually the dish is made in the oven.

Makes 4 servings.

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1 3/4 cups Calasparra rice
1 teacup olive oil
9 oz chicken, cut into chunks
9 oz rabbit, cut into chunks
1 ripe tomato
1 - 1/4 quart white chicken stock or water
9 oz salchichas blood sausage and butifarra white sausage, thickly sliced
Pinch of saffron
2 oz chickpeas, soaked and cooked (optional)
12 eggs

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Heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole, fry the chicken and rabbit, add the tomato and simmer slightly. Add the stock and let it boil for a few minutes until the meat is tender.

Spread the meat over the bottom of an ovenproof casserole; add the dry rice and saffron. Check the salting of the stock or water and pour it over the rice. Bake uncovered in a medium oven until the rice is almost dry.

Remove from the oven, and arrange the slices of sausages (raw of fried) over the top. Beat the eggs lightly with a little salt, pour them over the rice and put the casserole back into the oven for 8-10 minutes. This gives a rich, thick egg layer; if you want a thinner crust, use half the eggs.

Recipe courtesy of Spain GourmeTour magazine.

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