A rice dish with chunks of ribs, mushrooms and beans. 

Here’s the perfect dish for using the season’s wild mushrooms. The only problem is, I don’t have any wild mushrooms. Prolonged drought in much of Spain has slowed the appearance of the boletus, níscalos (saffron milk cap) and other autumn mushrooms. So, I’m making this–a rice dish that’s not paella–with cultivated oyster mushrooms. 

You could use any mushroom, foraged or cultivated, and, depending on the season, change off the vegetable add-in. For example, I’m using end-of-season green beans. In the winter, chard or other greens will be nice. With spring’s chanterelles or gurumelos, asparagus, artichokes or fava beans would be ideal.

Not saffron, but pimentón adds color and depth of flavor to the rice.

The rice is not “dry,” like paella, but meloso, juicy.

Change the mushrooms and vegetables with the seasons. Here, green beans and cultivated oyster mushrooms.

Bands of fat on the ribs keep the meat juicy and flavor the rice.

The rack of ribs needs to be cut lengthwise in thirds, then cut crosswise, between the bones, making small pieces. Unless you’re clever with a cleaver, best to have the butcher do the cutting. To eat, you can either cut the meat off the bones with knife and fork or, for a family meal, let everyone chew the meat off the bones. Pass the paper towels!

Use the same type of rice as for paella, a medium-short-grain variety. Bomba is especially good. This rice is not cooked “dry,” as for paella, nor “caldoso,” soupy. It’s arroz meloso, or slightly juicy. Cook the rice in a paella pan, deep skillet, flat-bottomed wok or earthenware cazuela.

Rice with Ribs and Mushrooms

Arroz con Costillas y Setas

Serves 4.

1 ¼ pounds spareribs, cut into 1 ½ -inch pieces


Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon vinegar

 3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

½ cup chopped red bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon sweet pimentón de la Vera (smoked paprika)

¼ teaspoon pimentón picante (hot paprika)

½ cup crushed tomatoes

1/3 cup white wine

5 cups hot water

1 bay leaf

Sprig of thyme

2 cups medium-short grain rice, such as Bomba

1 cup cooked green beans, cut in short pieces 

Brown the pieces of ribs.

Season the pieces of ribs with salt, pepper and vinegar. Allow to come to room temperature.

Heat the oil in a paella pan, large skillet or cazuela. Add the meat and brown it, turning to brown all sides, 5 minutes. Add the onion, red pepper and garlic. Sauté until onions are softened and beginning to brown, 3 minutes. 

Sprinkle the two kinds of pimentón over the ingredients in the pan. Add the tomatoes and cook 1 minute. Add the wine and cook off the alcohol, 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the hot water and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook the ribs, covered, until they are almost tender, 15 minutes. Taste for salt and add additional if needed.

Stir in the rice. Add remaining 3 cups of hot water. Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, on high heat for 5 minutes. Lower the heat and cook until rice is al dente tender, about 14 minutes. Add the green beans. Remove the pan from the heat. Cover and allow to set 5 minutes before serving. Discard the bay leaf and thyme.

More melosa rice dishes:

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