Use Your Leftover Vegetables to Make Arroz con Cosas

Chef Katie Button makes the rice dish on this week’s episode of Chefs at Home.

Arroz con cosas
Photo: Whitney Anderson

After demonstrating how to make a deeply flavorful sofrito—and with it, Pescado con Sofrito—on last week's episode of Chefs at Home, Asheville, North Carolina chef Katie Button is back with another recipe using sofrito. This time, she's using it to make Arroz con Cosas, or "rice with things." It's a Spanish-style dish that's very leftover-friendly, allowing you to take any protein and/or vegetables you have in your fridge and turn them into one cohesive meal.

"I think that rice is the best vehicle for nothing to go to waste," Button says.

The sofrito brings slow-cooked, caramelized flavors to the recipe. Button gives the final dish a boost by pairing it with a garlicky homemade allioli, which comes together in seconds in a food processor. All in all, it's an easy, flavorful way to clean out your fridge and get dinner on the table fast.

To make it, read on for Button's step-by-step method and follow along with the video below.

Cook Your Protein and Vegetables

Although Button uses chicken in the video, you can sub in sausage links, shrimp, or another leftover protein you have for this recipe. Start by quickly cooking the protein in a skillet, and then transfer it to a plate and use the same pan to cook the vegetables. Again, use what you have available—for Button, it's asparagus, mushrooms, and some turnip. Brown them in the skillet and then add them to the plate with the protein. They'll go back in with the rice later to finish cooking, but in the meantime, you can move on to the main event: the arroz.

Start on the Arroz

Here's where the sofrito comes in. Add a generous scoop of the sofrito to the skillet and deglaze the pan with a splash of sherry. The vegetable stock goes in next, along with some salt. After the mixture comes to a simmer, it's time to add the rice. Button's recipe calls for short-grain paella rice, such as Bomba or Calasparra.

Once the rice is in the skillet, resist the urge to stir it so the socarrat can form—aka, the delectable crispy rice layer on the bottom of the pan. After a few minutes of cooking, arrange the protein evenly on top of the rice and let it cook a few minutes more until the edges start to get foamy and you hear a crackling sound (again, don't stir!). Add the vegetables and herbs on top of the rice next, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the rice is al dente and smells toasty. At this point, remove the skillet from the heat, cover it, and allow the arroz to finish cooking off the stove. This is important; Button warns that if you let it finish cooking before removing it from the heat, it will overcook.

Make the Allioli

You can choose to make the allioli before starting on the rice, or do as Button does in the video and quickly whip it up while it cooks. She notes that the condiment is traditionally made in Catalonia with just garlic and olive oil, emulsified with a mortar and pestle—here, she makes a quick version with a food processor that's similar to mayonnaise. You'll need one large egg, one smashed garlic clove, fresh lemon juice, kosher salt, and arbequina olive oil. If you can't find the latter, combine regular olive oil with a neutral oil like grapeseed oil in a 1:1 ratio so that the mixture has a mild enough flavor.

To make the allioli, simply process the egg, garlic, lemon juice, and salt together and slowly stream in the oil until a smooth mixture forms.

"You know the allioli is right if it's like garlic punching you in the face," Button says. "That's how it should be, it should be kinda spicy."

Finish the Arroz and Serve

Once the arroz and allioli are done, you're all set to eat.

"It's just like, hands-down delicious," Button says after giving the dish a try.

Stay tuned for the final installment of Button's Chefs at Home episode, where she uses sofrito to make Empanadillas Gallegas.

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