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

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 25 min
  • Prep: 10 min
  • Cook: 15 min
  • Yield: 6 servings
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Ingredients

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

Achiote Oil:

1 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons achiote (annatto) seeds, see Cook's Note*

Directions

  1. Pour the clam juice into a small saucepan and heat to simmering. Keep hot over very low heat.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Achiote Oil:

  1. 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.