Food & Drink

Blue sky's imperial rice

Blue sky's imperial rice

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 green bell peppers, finely chopped

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 medium-size ripe tomatoes, finely chopped

1 teaspoon white vinegar

3 teaspoons sauterne wine

1 large red pimiento in its own juice, finely chopped

Dash of white pepper

1 bay leaf

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 chicken bouillon cubes

1 1/2 ounces sherry

Salt to taste

6 chicken quarters

1 teaspoon yellow food coloring

2 1/2 cups Valencia

(short-grain) rice

2 1/2 cups converted rice

For the filling:

Shredded meat from the chicken quarters

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, sliced julienne-style (into matchstick-size pieces)

1 green bell pepper, sliced julienne-style

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoons paprika

1 1/2 cups tomato puree

3 teaspoons white wine

1 teaspoon white vinegar

2 teaspoons chopped garlic

Dash of white pepper

Scant 1/2 cup green pitted olives with liquid

Salt to taste

To finish dish:

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) light mayonnaise

12 thin slices ham

12 thin slices mozzarella cheese

Dash of paprika

Pimientos and green peas for garnish

Makes 12 servings.

In an oven-proof pot, saute the green peppers, onions and tomatoes in the olive oil until onions begin to color. Add the vinegar, sauterne, pimiento, white pepper, bay leaf, cumin, bouillon cubes, sherry, salt, chicken, 12 cups water and food coloring. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until chicken is tender, about 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil and add the Valencia rice. (The liquid should have reduced to about 8 cups). Mix carefully, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until grains begin to swell, about 20 minutes. Stir in converted rice and salt to taste. Cover pot and place in oven about 20 minutes, until rice is tender.

To make the chicken filling: Remove the chicken from the bones and shred. In a small pot, saute the onions and green peppers in the olive oil until onion is transparent. Add the chicken, bay leaf, cumin, paprika, tomato puree, wine, vinegar, garlic and white pepper. Stir in the olives and salt. Allow to cook on low heat for about 5 minutes, adding water or chicken broth if mixture seems dry.

To finish: In a large clay paella pan or 9-by-13-inch glass baking pan, spread about half the rice. Cover with a layer of chicken filling, then add the remaining rice. Spread the mayonnaise on top, and crisscross with ham slices. Place the cheese on top. Sprinkle the paprika over the cheese and place in 400-degree oven for a few minutes, until cheese melts a bit. Garnish with pimientos and peas, if desired.