Saturday, March 9, 2019


A friend recently posted photos on Facebook of lunch with friends at a restaurant on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, south of Sevilla. One of the dishes pictured was arroz caldoso con pato—soupy rice with duck. 

When you think of Spain and rice, you probably don’t think of Andalusia.  But, not all Spanish rice is paella and not all rice comes from Valencia. In fact, more rice is produced in Las Marismas, the wetlands of the lower Guadalquivir River, than anywhere in Spain. Here, rice dishes are as indigenous as paella in Valencia.

Rice cooked with duck legs and mushrooms is caldoso, or soupy.

The Marismas, bordering the national park of Coto Doñana, are rich in wildlife. For centuries, this has been prime hunting territory, both for the rich and titled and for the poor who inhabit the region. Hunters might cook up a pot of rice with wild duck and seasonal wild mushrooms.

I didn’t have wild duck, nor even fresh duck. But I had several legs of duck in confit—cooked in duck fat and vacuum-sealed. No wild mushrooms either, so portobellos and shitakes would have to stand-in for the woodsy, wild fungii. (Typical in this region are gurumelos, amanita ponderosa; tanas, amanita caesarea, and senderuela, marasmius oreades or “Scotch bonnet.”)

Manzanilla is fino Sherry made in Sanlucar de Barrameda, the town where the Guadalquivir finally empties into the ocean. Use manzanilla to cook the rice and serve it with the meal too.

Bomba variety of rice absorbs less liquid. If you want the rice even soupier, add more cooking liquid.

Whole duck legs, conserved in confit, are already cooked, so add them to the rice near the end of cooking.

Pimentón (paprika) adds color and flavour. Saffron can be used as well.

Soupy Rice with Duck and Mushrooms
Arroz Caldoso con Pato y Setas

If you are using fresh, not confit, duck, cut it into small serving pieces, removing as much fat as possible. Use the back and wings to make stock. Add the pieces of duck to the pan with the liquid and cook until it is tender, 30-40 minutes, before adding rice.

Use medium-short grain rice, preferably the Bomba variety because it does not “flower,” or open up, when cooked in lots of liquid. Don’t wash the rice and don’t stir it once the duck has been returned to the pan.

Pimentón (paprika) both colors and flavors the rice. Use ordinary sweet pimentón, not smoked. Saffron can be used, if desired.

Duck legs in confit are already cooked. Scrape off all the fat before adding them to the rice.

Serves 4-6.

4 confit duck legs (about 10 ounces each)
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped green pepper
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic, chopped
5 ounces mushrooms, sliced or quartered
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon pimentón (paprika)
¼ teaspoon coarsely cracked black pepper
½ cup manzanilla or fino Sherry
5-6 cups chicken or duck stock or water
Sprig of thyme
1 ¼ cups medium-short-grain rice, preferably Bomba variety

Scrape fat from the duck legs. (Save it for another use.) Save any juices or gelatin clinging to the meat. 

Heat the oil in a cazuela or deep sauté pan. Brown the pieces of duck on both sides and remove. Add the onions, green and red peppers and garlic to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue sautéeing. Add the tomatoes and fry them until they lose their juice. 

Stir in the pimentón and pepper. Add the manzanilla. Cook off the alcohol, 3 minutes. Add any reserved juices or gelatin from the duck. Add 4 cups of the stock or water. Bring to a boil. Add the sprig of thyme and salt to taste. Stir in the rice. Let the rice cook, uncovered, on medium-high heat for 5 minutes. 

Rice starts with a sofrito, including mushrooms, then cooks in stock 5 minutes before duck is returned to the pan.

Return the pieces of duck to the pan. Add remaining 1 or 2 cups of stock or water to the pan and bring to a boil. Lower heat so the rice bubbles gently. Cook without stirring the rice until it is tender, 12 to 14 minutes more. 

Let the rice set 5 minutes before serving. 

Another "soupy" rice dish: Chicken with Soupy Rice and Vegetables.
Another rice dish from Andalusia: Córdoba Rice in a Skillet.

Web site for Gerry Dawes, the friend who posted the photo of duck with soupy rice that inspired this blog. Gerry knows lots about Spanish food and wines.


  1. Wonderful Recipy, Love Confit y caldoso,,,Gracias!

    1. SweetBasil: Thanks. Although confit is not "authentic," it sure saves cooking time!

  2. Hi, there, Jane. How great to live in the south of Spain! Hey, is there a way to search your blog for a particular recipe? I made arroz con pollo and although tender and moist, I think it needs something spice wise. Gracias!

    1. ArielPaz: Spanish cooks don't cook spicy-hot foods much. You can always increase the quantity of cayenne and cumin in the arroz con pollo recipe if you like it spicier. On a desktop monitor or tablet you will see the little Search window in the upper left-hand side of the blog page. I am not sure how to find Search in smartphone format.