1. Last Christmas (Bachata version)
by Gianni Nuzzi
Whenever someone told me the end of the world is coming (12/21/2012), I used to joke that ‘when the Mayans predicted the date, perhaps they ran out ink or space to write on their stone calendar.’ Whether or not that’s true, hey, we all are still alive!! ☺ Let’s celebrate new life and Christmas with Dominican style Christmas Rice (Arroz Navidad) made with apple juice!
I’ve lived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for a year with my parents who are Christian missionaries there. Last Christmas, we were invited to a real Dominican style Christmas fiesta. It was a night to remember with everyone merrily moving their hips left and right to merengue, salsa and singing joyfully to live bachata (Dominican ballad) music while sipping on dark Dominican rum (Brugal, yeah!) and double espresso with two spoonful of Crema Azucar (brown sugar) and a shot of Sambuca (anise-flavoed liquor). Those Dominicanos sure know how to party~!!
My mom and Lesbia dancing to salsa with a sombrero
That night I had my first bowl of Christmas Rice known as Arroz Navidad. I’ve had many kinds of rice before but never had one made with apple juice! How refreshing!
Below you will find authentic Dominican recipe from our Dominicana friend Lesbia.
Dominican Christmas Rice (Arroz Navidad)
Prep: 10 minutes Cooking: 45 minutes Level: Medium
Music Pairing : ‘Last Christmas (Bachata version)’ by Gianni Nuzzi
5 cups Long-Grain Rice (like Thai Jasmine or Basamati) *Not sushi rice (short-grain)
5 cups Apple Juice (from concentrate with no sugar added)
3 medium sized red Apples chopped into small bite pieces with peel on
½ cup Shaved Almonds
2 cups of Raisins (~300g) (I used 1 cup Black Raisins and 1 cup Green Raisins)
½ stick of Butter (~55g)
2 Tbs. Olive Oil
1 Tbs. Salt
1. In a heavy-bottom pot (thick bottom), put 2 Tbs. Olive Oil with little less than 1 Tbs. of Salt and stir around for 3 minutes over medium high heat.
2. Add in washed and well drained Long-Grain Rice to the pot then stir around with a wooden spoon for 3 minutes.
3. Add in 5 cups of Apple Juice (the ratio of Rice:Apple Juice = 1:1), depending on the thickness of the pot and the strength of fire cooking time may vary. Continuously stir around over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until ¾ of the liquid is gone.
4. Stir around one last time so that the rice does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Put the lid on, turn down the heat to the lowest setting then steam for 20-30 minutes. Some rice will stick to the bottom and brown but make sure you don’t burn the rice, if you smell something burning, turn off the heat and let it steam on its own. Turn off the heat, stir around the Rice then let it cool a bit.
5. If you are going to serve it right away, while the Rice is steaming, you can melt butter in another pan over medium heat. Add finely chopped Apple bits, Raisins and Shaved Almonds and stir around for around 5 minutes until they begin to caramelize. If you are reserving the Rice for later, wait and do this step right before serving.
6. Add #4 Rice into #5 Pan and mix well.
7. Garnish with Apple slices on the top.
8. Share it with your family and friends. Play any of your favorite Christmas songs although I think Christmas songs a la bachata (Dominican ballad) style pairs extremely well with this rice.
Make sure to heat up the Christmas Rice before serving. An extra dab of butter won’t hurt either ☺
Musichef Tip # 2
Carefully monitoring the heat levels and constantly stirring are the two keys to this recipe.
Musichef Tip # 2 If you are making smaller portion, reduce the cooking time accordingly (10-20 mins).
Merry Christmas to you all ☺ !Feliz Navidad! !para Saluth!
What are you cooking in your kitchen for this Christmas?
Tags: apple juice, apple juice rice, apple rice, arroz navidad, Christmas, Christmas Rice, Dominican Republic, Dominican rice, holiday rice, Korean, musichef