Thursday, November 18, 2010

RECIPE - Rice with Dried Peaches (Arroz com Origone)

This side-dish of sweetened, spiced rice flavored with origone, the traditional dried and pressed peach preparation of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost state, is served in its home territory along side a main course of poultry, or less often red meat. Combining the savory flavor of meat with the sweetness of dried fruits is a culinary tradition that the Moors brought to the Iberian peninsula during the 700 years that they occupied that territory, and was then brought to South America by Spanish and Portuguese explorers and colonizers.

This dish, although meant to be served as an accompaniment to a main course of meat, is quite sweet. This is not unusual for the Brazilian palate, which loves combining sweet and salty flavors, and which has a tolerance for extremely sweet dishes. The quantity of sugar called for in this recipe, an authentic gaúcho dish, is large - 1 cup. To my taste, the dish is more pleasing with a much-reduced quantity of sugar, about 1/4 of what's called for in the dish. Feel free to limit the amount of sugar if you wish - the result will still be delicious, and the flavor of the peaches will be highlighted, a small price to pay for a loss of authenticity, I think.

I like to serve this with roast chicken, but I'm sure it would go well with lamb stews, pot roasts or even with grilled sausages. The recipe calls for origone, which are pressed as well as dried, but common dried peaches work well. I would think that dried apricot could successfully be substituted as well, but cannot vouch for that.
RECIPE - Rice with Dried Peaches (Arroz com Origone)

1/4 lb (100 gr) origone (or dried peaches or apricots)
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
4 cups of boiling water
1 cup dark brown sugar
5 whole cloves
1 cup white rice
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
Wash the origone or dried peaches in running water, then place in large glass or ceramic mixing bowl. Pour over 4 cups of boiling water, then let stand for at least one hour. Remove the peaches, reserving the water in which they were reconstituted. Let the peaches cool, then cut into small cubes. Reserve.

Put the 1/4 cup sugar in a medium pan, then heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Do not let it burn. Remove from heat, then carefully add the reserved water - the sugar will sputter when the water is added. Then add the reserved peaches and cloves, bring to a boil, and let boil gently for about 15 minute or until the peaches are cooked and soft.

Add the rice, and with the pan partially covered, let cook until most of the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. Add the butter and the additional sugar, plus one cup of boiling water, and let cook, uncovered, until all the liquid is absorbed and rice is dry. Remove from heat, cover the pan, and let stand for 10 minutes.

Put the rice into a lightly buttered mold, press down, then unmold onto a serving platter. Serve immediately.

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