But some days, the inspiration comes as the hunger is creeping up on you. I am out and about, maybe ready to head home, feeling the beginning twinges of hunger. I have nothing in the fridge and no pre-conceived notions on what to prepare for dinner. So I wander into a store hoping that flash of clarity will take over and dinner will unveil itself to me in the grocer's aisles. This particular meal came to me that way.
The husband and I were wandering around after a day in the city and feeling ready to head back to Brooklyn, back to the comfort of our cozy apartment and a home cooked meal. Before heading that way, however, we first stopped by Eataly in hopes that our meal would show itself. A flash of enlightenment hit in the form of longing for a meal in Barcelona--maybe something like the rustic rice dish we enjoyed one lunch at one of the beautiful markets. And there it was: a paella inspired dish, but slightly darker, richer, put together from the Italian ingredients we had at hand.
Orzo meant the dish wouldn't need hours to prepare. Eataly's lovely flavorful sausages added the protein and also lent themselves to quick cooking. Beef stock made the dish a little deeper in flavor and stood up well to the boar sausages. Some frozen peas we had on hand and some canned artichoke hearts added a bit of bright flavor to counteract with the other rich flavors. Saffron added its own unique punch. The orzo cooked up and slightly caramelized on the bottom of the pan, creating the "socarrat", my favorite part of any paella.
An inspired, satisfying last minute meal was enjoyed with wine and tomato bread. I hope to repeat this meal (and the contentment it brought with it) again and again.
large pinch of saffron
4 wild boar sausages (if you can find them, otherwise any sausage will do)
2 TB olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 c. orzo
2 c. beef stock
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 can artichoke hearts
1/2 c. fresh or frozen peas
Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the saffron and lightly toast, about a minute or two, then add 1/2 cup of water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat a 12" cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and brown on all sides. Keep turning the sausages frequently and cook until just cooked through. Remove the sausages from the pan and turn the heat down to medium.
Add the olive oil to the pan, then add the onion. Cook until it is tender and almost transparent. Add the garlic and rosemary and cook for another minute or two.
Add the orzo to the pan and cook for about two minutes, stirring often. Then add the beef stock, saffron and water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
At this time slice the sausages into bite sized pieces. After the orzo has cooked 5 minutes, add these back to the pan along with the artichoke hearts. Stir all of this together and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
Next stir in the peas to the orzo and turn up the heat to high. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed by the orzo or evaporated by this point and the high heat will cook off the rest while slightly toasting the orzo that is touching the bottom of the pan. Do not stir at this point. This should take about 2-3 minutes. You will start to smell the orzo toasting and can use a spoon to see if it has created a bit of "crust" at the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and serve.