This baked rice studded with chorizo, chickpeas, currants, and tomatoes is my heartier, adapted version of Claudia Roden’s Baked Rice with Chickpeas and Currants from The Food of Spain. A whole head of garlic (called a partridge by Valencians) is baked in the middle of the rice, so everyone can take a few cloves and squeeze out the soft insides at the table. It’s not only charming, the garlic flavors and perfumes the entire dish. Another special detail is the technique for baking the rice at high heat (sans lid). The top layer of rice gets crunchy (with creamier, softer rice underneath), the tomatoes turn soft and jammy, the chorizo browns and crisps, and the garlic turns golden. It’s one of the most foolproof techniques I’ve found for cooking rice.
This one-pot meal is substantial enough to standalone for dinner (a simple, leafy green salad on the side wouldn't be out of place) and versatile enough to be served with meat or as part of a big spread when hosting friends.
For a vegetarian version, double the olive oil and chickpeas, omit the chorizo, and use vegetable stock. Top each bowl of rice with a pimentón fried egg, also highly recommended for leftovers!
A wide, ovenproof braiser or cazuela is recommended for the dish—both for presentation and to maximize the surface area that crisps and browns.
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a wide, ovenproof braiser or cazuela with at least a 3 1/2–quart capacity. (Alternatively, use a Dutch oven with an equivalent capacity, or start the dish in a large pot and transfer to a baking dish that holds at least 3 1/2 quarts). Add the onions, season with a pinch of salt, and saute until tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chorizo and cook until it starts to brown and render a bit of its fat, stirring occasionally, another 2 to 3 minutes.
Stir in the whole head of garlic and currants, stirring well to integrate and coat in the fat, and cook another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, paprika, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and chickpeas, and cook until the tomatoes start to gently simmer. Add the rice, stirring well to evenly coat, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes to toast the grains. Add the chicken stock and position the garlic in the center of the rice. Bring the stock to a boil, then put the pan (uncovered) in the oven.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the rice is tender and all of the stock has been absorbed. (Check at 25 minutes.) If using a Dutch oven, the cook time will be closer to 40 to 50 minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature, making sure everyone gets a few garlic cloves.