Saffron Rice in Argentina

riceWatching The Mind of a Chef, Season 2 Episode: Rice, I was inspired by Chef Sean Brocks careful and respectful recount of the history of the heirloom Carolina Gold rice grain grown with such care his friend Ansom Mills in the state of Louisiana. It made me think of how much we argentines use rice in their daily cuisine.

Rice is grown in the Northeast of Argentina, mainly in the province of Corrientes.  The type of rice produced is Doble Carolina, a mid-range sized grain used and cultivated throughout Latin America.  My understanding is that this is basically the same grain as the Carolina Gold grown in southern US.

Most foreigner’s first guess about rice use in Argentine is based on knowledge of our Italian roots and our love of starchy risotto, which uses carnaroli rice.  Wrong.  Most argentines I know, me included, grew up on the Spanish based dish called “Arroz con Azafrán”.  A simple, rice dish cooked with a classic mirepoix, and usually has added ground beef or sausage, sometimes chicken, seasoned with Spanish saffron.  It differs from the Iberic classic, and each family has its own way of preparing it.

My grandmother Elsa´s recipe called for ground beef, a little extra carrot in her mirepoix, and a few peas.  Something that would shock any spanish cook into a panic, was my grandma´s platting of the rice with a bit of parsley, and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.   Fusion cuisine has nothing on my grandma´s abilities in the kitchen! Click here for an easy-enough arroz con azafran recipe, and get a taste of argentine childhood comfort food.