Saffron Rice with Onions, Pancetta and Peas

Two Things…

1. As this cooking journey continues, I am starting to truly believe in interesting and self important side dishes. I don’t just want to make filler dishes for when Joshua and his five freakishly large friends come over. I want to make dishes that are delicious and could stand alone if they needed to be. It’s so easy to just throw some rice in a pot and slap it on a plate and give it to the over six foot four club to fill their bellies. But, where is the fun in that? Where is the adventure?

2. I am not sure if you noticed, but there is an “anonymous” commenter who likes to leave silly comments on random posts. By “anonymous” I mean my friend Blake, but he is too lazy to actually follow the blog so he has to post anonymously. And by silly I mean they are always about bacon. So, now every time I use bacon in a dish (which is often) I think of Blake. And every time I post a bacon picture I want to say this for Blake. But that is going to be redundant. So Blake, all the bacon pictures are just for you. Smile every time you see one.

So, to accompany this weeks roasted chicken I decided to make a more interesting and flavorful side dish. I went with saffron rice with onions, pancetta and peas.

Not exactly a Top Chef ready recipe, but it was pretty delicious and it added a lot more color the plates. And the flavors made me as happy as Top Chef All Stars starting yesterday. You can ask Eric or Lish, Top Chef happy is REALLY happy.

Love and Beer Floats

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (8-ounce) piece pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 1/4 cups white basmati rice
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon saffron threads
4 ounces of frozen peas

In a medium pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until brown and crispy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pancetta to paper towels to drain. Set aside. Cook the frozen peas in the pancetta juices until the peas are hot all the way through. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, add the butter. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add in the rice and stir until the rice is lightly toasted and coated with the butter, about 1 minute. Stir in the stock, salt and saffron. Bring the mixture to a simmer and, with a wooden spoon. scrape up the brown bits that cling to the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and cook until the rice is tender and all the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 to 25 minutes Let the rice stand for 5 minutes. Using a fork, fluff the rice and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the cooked pancetta and peas serve.