Yellow "Rice" with Serrano Ham ("Arroz" Amarillo con Jamon)

TOTAL TIME: 25 min
Prep: 10 min
Inactive Prep: --
Cook: 15 min
 
YIELD: 6 servings
LEVEL: Intermediate

ingredients

ACHIOTE OIL:
  • 2 tablespoons achiote (annatto) seeds, see Cook's Note*
  • 3 (8-ounce) bottles clam juice
  • 3 tablespoons Achiote Oil, recipe follows
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup finely diced Serrano or prosciutto ham
  • 1 pound orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish
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      Directions

      Pour the clam juice into a small saucepan and heat to simmering. Keep hot over very low heat.

      Heat the achiote oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic, stirring to prevent sticking, and cook until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the ham and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the orzo and stir until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.

      Pour enough hot clam juice into the skillet to cover the orzo by about 1/2-inch. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to medium-low. Continue cooking, adding small amounts of the hot clam juice to keep the orzo covered as necessary, until the pasta is tender but still firm, 6 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. The pasta should have a creamy consistency, but there should be little, if any, liquid left by the end of cooking. If a bit soupy, let stand for a minute or so. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the chopped parsley.

      Heat the oil and annatto seeds in a small skillet over medium heat just until the seeds give off a lively, steady sizzle. Don't overheat the mixture or the seeds will turn black and the oil will turn a nasty green. Once they're sizzling, remove the pan from the heat and let stand until the sizzling stops. Strain and reserve in a jar with a tight-fitting lid at room temperature for up to 4 days.

      *Cook's Note: Achiote seeds are a deep orange seed with a nutty flavor. They are available in many supermarkets and almost all Latin markets.

      Yield: about 1 cup

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