Thursday, 9 February 2012

Rice 'n' easy does it


In time of austerity we turn to recipes that give us the ultimate satisfaction without the strain on our weekly shopping budget.Apart from bread and potatoes,which appear at almost every meal, here in Portugal you will also frequently find rice.On many an occasion have I found both rice and potatoes on the same plate.The majority of Portuguese meals are well starched.Rice is more often than not wet and soupy without the 'every grain must be separate obsession' of other countries.Its there to absorb flavour,and it does so admirably.No more so than in this dish.
Chicken liver pilaff with spinach and peas, all enlivened with a little allspice, a truly impressive looking dish,but its really simplicity itself to prepare.Pilaff in Portugal? This is a tricky one so I had to return to something my mother used to cook and see how I could update it, and Portugalise it. I added the spices missing from her recipe which are the flavours adored by Portuguese cooks.With the addition of Allspice, chilli and cinnamon, I was on course to producing this stunning supper on an offally tasty budget...

Chicken liver pilaff
serves 4 as a main course
500g rice (about two teacupfuls)
125g butter
300g chicken livers,cleaned and cut into even-sized pieces
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 hot red chillis, deseeded and finely chopped
1 medium onion finely sliced
2 fat cloves garlic,crushed
30g pine nuts toasted
300g baby spinach,washed
225g petit pois
6 spring onions,finely chopped
1tablespoon each fresh coriander and flat leaf parsley,chopped
salt and pepper
Place the rice in a fine sieve,and give it a rinse under the cold tap,to get rid of any starchy dust( if you don´t pre-wash it the rice won´t fluff up so well at the end).Melt all but a couple of tablespoons of the butter in a large,heavy- based pan,then add the onion and two thirds of the garlic.Stir to coat with butter, cover and sweat for 10 minutes.Marinade the livers in a couple of pinches each of cinnamon and allspice,the rest of the garlic and the chilli.Take the lid off the onion pan,add the rest of the cinnamon and allspice,and cook until the onion turns golden.Add the rice,and stir well so that every grain gets a good coating of the buttery juices.Add an equal volume of water to the rice(about two teacupfuls),season lightly ,stir again,bring to the boil.Cover the pan,turn the heat down and simmer for 15 minutes,until all the water has been absorbed and the rice is cooked through.Just before the rice cooking time is up( about 12 minutes), melt the remaining butter in a frying pan and quickly fry the livers until they are  browned all over.Once nicely brown, lift them out with a slotted spoon and set aside in a warm place.In the same pan, cook the peas and spinach until the latter has wilted down.Stir these into the rice,then mix in the coriander and parsley, pinenuts and spring onions,season again,and add the livers.Serve immediately.

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