Baked rice with egg crust beats paella, at least in Gourmandistan

Arroz con costraWe don’t know if arroz con costra is viewed as superior to paella in Spain, as Gourmandistan’s travels to that country have been mostly limited to sojourns in Basque country where we stuffed ourselves silly on pintxos and one brief foray into Catalonia. This dish, which is basically rice, meat and broth baked and served under an egg crust, may be from Valencia, which Claudia Roden (who we got the idea from) credits for its creation. Or it may be from Murcia, a neighboring region which also lacks pintxos as far as Gourmandistan knows. Whoever originated this dish has our vote over paella, as we find the more-famous Spanish dish to be too fussy to make properly at our home.

This baked rice dish is fairly simple to make, and doesn’t rely on saffron to make it tasty. We jazzed up our version with some minced garlic and shallots, and used chicken legs, pork chops and some fresh chorizo-style sausage. Like paella, arroz con costra can adapt to what you have on hand and still be quite tasty. We once made a sausage-only version that worked out quite well. And you don’t have to stand over the stove watching your seafood.

Arroz con costra

Perhaps someday we’ll be lucky enough to get to Valencia. After we check to see if there are any rogue pintxo places, we will most likely pass up the paella and see if there’s a place with a costrera in town.


(adapted from Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain)

  • 2 pork sausages
  • 2 boneless loin chops, cut in half
  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1-2 TB olive oil
  • 1 large onion or equivalent amount of shallots, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1-1/2 c. rice, rinsed
  • 3 c. beef or chicken stock
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten and seasoned

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Prick sausages with a fork. Season pork and chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Brown meats over medium-high heat, turning occasionally. Do not cook through. Remove meats to a plate. Cut sausages in half.

Reduce heat to low. Add onion or shallots to skillet. Cook, stirring, until softened. Add garlic and paprika. Stir in tomatoes and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add chickpeas, rice and stock to tomato mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning.

Pour rice mixture into a large casserole. Arrange the browned meats and sausage pieces on top.

Bake for 15 minutes. Pour eggs evenly over the top and bake for 15 minutes more.


  1. I’ve never had that before, but I’m tempted to get my cazuela out right away! I can’t help thinking that the style of dish probably has a very strong Jewish background with the egg crust. Interestingly I was talking to my friend Ara the other day and I asked her what dishes come from Murcia that I might not have had in the rest of Spain – if she’d mentioned Arroz Con Costra I might have blogged it too!
    You will be hard pressed to find pintxos outside of the Basque Country, because they are a specific Basque thing. In the rest of Spain, unless you are in a Basque establishment, you will find tapas instead. Don’t be put off by paella rules – you can make anything paella like with rice and as long as you don’t call it paella, you won’t get into trouble like Jamie Oliver.

      • Ha ha – sorry, I saw someone writing on a blog the other day that Basque was a combination of French and Spanish and they were quite serious. In actual fact the language and people predate everyone else in Europe.
        Anyway, that’s a fantastic dish, which I must make soon!

  2. I find paella to be quite amenable to the home kitchen. I once spent nearly a week in Valencia with the explicit purpose of trying as many paellas as I could find. I had red paellas, white paellas, green paellas, paellas with fish, paellas with no fish… My favorites were a white paella called “arroz a banda,” with whitefish and potatoes and a creamy aioli you stir into it, and fideus — a noodle version.

  3. I did not know this. It looks really good. I just checked the Penelope Casas’s The food and wines of Spain and she too has a similar recipe: she also adds tiny meatballs, which makes the whole dish much longer to assemble though. Your no-fuss version is a winner. Well done Gourmandistan and, of course, cheers forMs Roden, whose Spanish book proved that the “old school” of food writing is rather special: it is a magic book, I find.

  4. I love all of Roden’s books, her Food of Spain is underused! Authenticity is a joke, every home cook has a version that differs in a subtle way from the neighbour’s. This dish is new to me too and sounds delicious. I also love paella and make it regularly.

    • I love her books, too. And, yeah, the authenticity thing has gotten way out of hand. I often find myself saying to Steve when I’m changing up something: “I’m just sure some Italian/Chinese/fill-in-the-blank housewife has done this before me when she had something she needed to use up!” Though, I have to admit, we were listening to the radio when recently driving back from Louisiana and they had a call-in show about gumbo and finally some woman called in and described her family’s gumbo which included a scoop of potato salad on top. Somebody called in later and said, “you know, there’s a point at which it’s not gumbo anymore.” Indeed!!

  5. I just spent a faw days in Valencia, and don’t remember seeing this on any menu! Had I known I would have googled it, as this looks really good. And great comfort food for the cold winter days!

  6. Very nice indeed. I haven’t been to Spain for a couple of years. Later in the year, we will be cycling from Seville to Malaga, over many mountains. I can’t wait to experience the foods.

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