Problems with Food Network Recipes: Jerk Chicken and Zarela’s Creamy Rice Casserole


By web gangsta | Published:

Oaxaca Traditional Recipes
Oaxaca Traditional Recipes Cookbook by Zalera Martinez

Web Watch enjoys watching Food Network, and one of the limited-run series that Food Network has been airing for the past few weeks is entitled THE BEST THING I EVER ATE.

Each episode has various Food Network stars (Guy Fieri, Duff Goldman, Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis, etc) raving about the Best Things They’ve Ever Eaten in different categories. If you’re a foodie, these are the places around the country that you should stick your head into to see what’s up.

One episode, entitled “Obsessions”, covered foods from Miami to San Francisco. Finally, an episode that featured three(!) restaurants that Web Watch has already visited. So far, so good.

Halfway through the episode, they hit on a dish that looked phenomenal: the Creamy Rice Casserole (Arroz con crema y Poblanos) from Zarela in New York City. It looked great, and appeared to be relatively easy to make. A quick Google search shows that the recipe was posted on the Zarela website itself. Fantastic!

Let’s take a look at what’s been posted on the Zarela website:

Zarela’s Creamy Rice Casserole (Arroz con crema y Poblanos), as originally published:

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups Uncle Ben’s or other converted rice
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 14 cup chopped onion
  • 14 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
  • 2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and deveined
  • 12 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 16 ounce can corn
  • 12 pound grated cheddar cheese
  1. Bring water to a boil and add buttter and salt. When the butter is melted, add the rice and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat to very low, cover the rice with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, Take rice out of the saucepan and spread on a baking sheet to cool or allow to cool in the pan uncovered.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the sour cream with the chopped onion and cilantro and add salt to taste.
  3. Heat the lard in a frying pan and add the chopped onion and garlic clove. Dice the poblanos and add to pan when the onion is wilted. Saute for one minute. Let cool and combine with the rice.
  4. Drain the can of corn well and add to the cool rice and poblano mixture. Add the sour cream mixture and mix in the grated cheese.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through in a 350 degree oven. If using a pyrex dish, the oven temperature should be 325 degrees.

Web Watch would love to make this recipe as listed. But we have a bit of a problem that we hope Zarela can correct.

First, what restaurant suggests using Uncle Ben’s rice? Uncle Ben makes some fine rice, indeed, but it is not what we’re expecting to see from a show called “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”. Still, we can deal with this if we have to.

But more importantly, Web Watch wants to know what to do with the 14 cups of chopped onion, 14 cups of chopped cilantro, and another 12 cups of chopped onion. (Web Watch likes cheese, so the 12 pounds of grated cheddar cheese seems reasonable to us.)

Hopefully, Zarela will correct their recipe for us at-home chefs to try ourselves. With luck, the end-result will work out better than when Web Watch tried to make Chef Keith Famie’s Jerk Marinade, using these ingredients as are still currently posted on the Food Network website. You remember Keith Famie – he placed third on the Australia season of Survivor before hosting a season of Keith Famie’s Adventures:

  • 3/4 pounds scotch bonnets, remove stem, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 pound thyme, leaves removed
  • 6 ounces freshly ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh ginger
  • 1 large onion, rough diced
  • 4 bunches scallions, white and green parts only
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil

Place all ingredients in food processor except soy sauce and olive oil. After finely minced or pureed, place in mixing bowl and add soy sauce and oil. You may use immediately or can be stored, covered and refrigerated, for up to a week before use.

3/4 pounds of scotch bonnets? Really? Web Watch even made an assumption that the recipe was supposed to read “3-to-4 scotch bonnets” to cut the amount of heat down from what was listed. Whoo-boy, even that was way too much. Perhaps we should have taken a clue from Bobby Flay, as he only uses one scotch bonnet pepper in his jerk chicken recipe.

Web Watch asked Food Network executives if the 3/4 pounds of Scotch Bonnets was a typo in the recipe. Here’s their response:

The recipe is printed correctly online as was featured on the episode, and apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused. You may adjust the amount of Scotch Bonnets used to accomodate your own taste.

Web Watch knows that 99.9% of the recipes we look for online are probably accurate and proofread ahead of time. But using these two examples, all we can do is warn Web Watch readers to double- and triple-check to make sure that the recipe you find online is correct before you start making the dish. Trust us, 3/4-pounds of scotch bonnets is NOT something you want to be mistaken about.

UPDATE #1: Zarela mostly corrected their recipe after Web Watch posted this piece… but it’s still not perfect. There’s still an extra 1/2 cup or 1/4 cup of chopped onion listed. We have left the copy of the original posting intact for posterity, and are looking forward to trying the updated version.

UPDATE #2: Zarela has UPDATED their recipe!! Web Watch is looking forward to trying this newer version, as it looks like it has addressed the texture issues we had with the original iteration. As Zarela has made alterations to what they first posted, we reprint their recipe here so we can easily compare it to their original text. Note that even with an updated version, they still have an extra onion entry that, as noted with update #1 above, we noted probably needs to be removed:

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups Uncle Ben’s or other converted rice
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt

For the sour cream mixture (crema agria preparada):

  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 2 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil
  • 2 poblano chiles, roasted, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 16 ounce can corn
  • 1/2 pound grated cheddar cheese
  1. Bring water to a boil and add buttter and salt. When the butter is melted, add the rice and bring back to a boil. Lower the heat to very low, cover the rice with a tight-fitting lid and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, Take rice out of the saucepan and spread on a baking sheet to cool or allow to cool in the pan uncovered.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the sour cream with the chopped onion and cilantro and add salt to taste.
  3. Heat the lard in a frying pan and add the chopped onion and garlic clove. Dice the poblanos and add to pan when the onion is wilted. Saute for one minute. Let cool and combine with the rice.
  4. Drain the can of corn well and add to the cool rice and poblano mixture. Add the sour cream mixture and mix in the grated cheese.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through in a 350 degree oven. If using a pyrex dish, the oven temperature should be 325 degrees