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Crusty Rice

Origin: Murcia

Arroz al horno

Arroz con costra is yet another great Spanish rice dish that is relatively simple to make and tastes delicious. Hailing from Murcia in the South of the country, this rice casserole dish is a perfect example of the cooking and gastronomy that makes this Spanish region so famous.

Murcia is one of Spain's best regions for rice dishes, sitting alongside Valencia where the ever-famous paella was created. However this dish is a strange mixture between casserole and paella, and with the inclusion of the egg crust, makes for a very strange but very traditional dish.

The name of the dish, 'arroz con costra' derives from this egg topping - those of you who study Spanish in Spain or abroad will know that 'costra' means crust in Spanish. This is because when the egg is baked on the top of the rice casserole, it turns into a tasty crust that compliments the sauce and the rice contained below exquisitely.

In this recipe, you have the option of including a typical Spanish sausage called 'butifarra blanca'. This is a white sausage and is very typical of Spain, and Murcia in particular, and is an example of a cooked sausage. The sausage is white as it is only made from pork meat. However, if you can't find some butifarra blanca you can replace it with a similar white sausage or bratwurst or simply omit the ingredient all together. Similarly, chicken is cited in this recipe but many traditional versions of the dish use rabbit so you may choose which you like best - or whichever is easier to find in the supermarket.

Arroz con costra can be found in other parts of Spain as well; for example you will find this dish quite often if you visit Valencia. In fact, in the city of Elche in Valencia, very close to the Murcian border, the largest dish of this Spanish crusty rice dish to be cooked ever was made using 1,500 eggs, 100 kilograms of rice and 120 kilograms of rabbit. The dish, which provided 1,500 servings, made it into the Guinness Book of World Records, helping immortalise this Spanish dish.

Arroz con costra | Crusty Rice with Spare Ribs and Chicken


Arroz al horno
  • ½ cup Olive oil
  • ½ lb spare ribs, roughly chopped
  • 2 butifarras blancas, cut into 2cm thick slices (optional)
  • ½ lb pork loin, cut into large cubes
  • 6 chicken legs
  • 1½ tsps salt
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped roughly
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 1 tsp sweet pimentón or paprika spice
  • 2 cups Spanish rice
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • Serves 6


  • Preheat the oven to 230ºC (450ºF).
  • Heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat in a large (around 30 centimetres in diameter), deep casserole dish. Add the spareribs, sausage slices (if using), pork and chicken and cook, turning as necessary, for around 10 minutes or until the meat is lightly golden brown all over.
  • Add the salt and the tomatoes to the pan and mix well.
  • Arroz al horno
  • In a saucepan, bring the beef stock to the boil and then turn down the heat but maintain the stock at a simmer.
  • Add the pimentón or paprika to the casserole dish containing the meat and tomato mixture and mix briskly to mix the flavour in. Then add the stock to the mixture and turn up the heat to high, bringing it all to the boil.
  • Add the rice and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon to mix it with the rest of the ingredients and make sure that it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
  • Turn the heat down to medium-low and cook for 2 minutes without stirring.
  • Next place the casserole dish in the oven and bake it for 10 minutes or until the rice has become soft and absorbed most of the stock. Pour the beaten eggs evenly over the surface of the rice and bake for a further 5 minutes or until the eggs form a crust on the top of the dish.
  • Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Don't forget to have a spare bowl or plate to put the left over bones from the ribs and chicken legs, and also provide a number of serviettes as you will no doubt eating them with your fingers!