Arroz vermelho com galinha velha
Arroz vermelho com galinha velha is a classic Brazilian country dish made from brown rice, the “arroz vermelho,” and the flesh of an old hen (a chicken), a “galinha velha,” that can no longer lay so has lost its usefulness. Really, it’s a tragic story, no? I prefer to think that at least those hens led decent lives roaming about the property, eating the grain we fed them, and savoring wild grasses and succulent bugs, as opposed to the bionic chicken we get in the meat sections of our supermarkets. The bird was always tough and gamey, but it matched perfectly well with brown rice because both require long simmering. It was always a complete success at the family dinner table and made everyone happy. Though the dish is very good, it’s not what I’m describing here.
I stopped eating chicken years ago but sometimes I miss the texture of that particular dish. It was sort of like Italian risotto so I recently tried it with black eyed peas instead of old hen. It came out very tasty.
Brown rice and black-eyed peas are often neglected by people. I wonder why? Is it the time it takes to prepare them? Or, maybe prejudice towards the ingredients? Yet they are delicious and packed with good stuff like B vitamins and protein.
Brown Rice and Black-Eyed Pea Risotto
1 ½ cups brown rice
2 cups dried black-eyed peas
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2 stalks of celery chopped
2 medium carrots cut into tiny cubes
10 Spanish olives cut into rounds
5 tbsp of chopped parsley
8 halves of sundried tomatoes (cured in oil) cut into strips
1 tbsp of raisins
1 tsp white vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
Soak dried black-eyed peas in water for three hours.
Heat oil in a pan on medium. Sweat celery and onion for few minutes till onion becomes translucent. Add garlic and sauté for further 2 minutes.
Add rice and black-eyed peas to onion mixture. Stir. Add about 3 cups of hot water, bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer for about 35-40 minutes
Remove from heat. Add carrot, raisins, parsley, olives, vinegar and sundried tomatoes. Add salt to taste.
Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top and a side of sauté collard greens.
To prepare collard greens:
2 bunches collard greens (or kale), carefully cleaned, stems removed and leaves chopped into fine strips. Reserve stems for steaming and using in salads or as a vegetable side. They taste like broccoli.
3 cloves of garlic, cut into thin slivers
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Using a skillet sauté garlic in olive oil for a minute or so, add collard greens, stir and cook till fully wilted: about 3 minutes. Serve with black-eyed peas as above.