Ideal if you are pressed for time, this braise, a quick, spicy take on Spanish paella, uses the lean meat from the loin, which would dry out if cooked longer. Marinate the pork ahead if you can. Leftovers can easily be rewarmed in a microwave.
Reproduced with permission from THE GREAT MEAT COOKBOOK
Cuban spice paste
- 1/4 cup Spanish paprika or sweet Hungarian paprika
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons rum (optional)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless pork loin chops (1-inch thick), cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 2 cups arborio rice
- 3 cups canned low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 cup drained canned diced tomatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- 1/2 cup fire-roasted red bell peppers or jarred piquillo peppers, cut into strips
- 16 large shrimp in their shells (optional)
- 2 cups frozen artichoke hearts, thawed (can sub 2 cups cooked fresh or thawed frozen green beans)
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix to make a homogenous paste. Add the pork and toss to coat well. (For the best flavor, refrigerate the pork, covered, for up to 16 hours.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Heat the oil in a large nonstick ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the pork from the spice paste and pat dry, reserving the spice paste in the bowl. Add the pork to the pan and cook, turning occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until browned on all sides. Remove the pork and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and garlic, and cook, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, for 5 minutes, or until soft.
- Add the rice, stirring until well coated with the onion mixture. Stir in the broth, tomatoes, saffron and the reserved spice paste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the capers, cover, and transfer to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Stir in the pork, then scatter the peppers, shrimp (if using), and artichoke hearts over the rice.
- Cover and bake for 10 minutes more, or until the rice is tender, the liquid has been absorbed, and the shrimp (if using) are opaque and pink.
- To serve, stir the rice to incorporate all the ingredients and season to taste with salt and pepper.
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