Recipe #4: Saffron rice

My wonderful MIL gets me a new cookbook every Christmas. 2 years ago, she gave me Thomas Keller's "Ad Hoc at Home," which is not only gorgeous to look at, but contains a lot of surprisingly approachable dishes (along with some intensely laborious ones). The saffron rice is definitely an easy recipe to make, and doesn't require a lot of ingredients. A few years back, I went to Barcelona and came back with a suitcase full of edible goodies, including paella rice and beautiful threads of saffron. So I actually had all the ingredients on hand, amazingly enough.

It required a bit of babysitting, much like a risotto would, but the end result was delicious - light and fluffy, and ever so delicately flavored with saffron. Note to self: go stock up in Barcelona. Go. I said, go!

Now, the best part of making this dish are the golden morsels found at the bottom of the pan - essentially, the caramelized pieces of rice:

In Korean, they call it "noorungji" and the Spanish call it "socarrat." Chefs say that it's the best part of paella, and that in fact, the mark of a good paella is how good the socarrat is (i.e. not burnt, slightly crispy, and perfectly caramelized). I must say -- I enjoyed eating the socarrat even more than the rest of the rice. 5 ladles!

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