Monday, August 20, 2007

Paella extravaganza

I broke out my paella pan yesterday for a tapas and paella shindig out by the pool. Damian and his wife Kristin came up from Sunnyvale; we also invited Neil and Melissa, and the Baileys (Scott and Jennifer). Conversation centered around academic shop talk, with a little Air Force mixed in.

The paella turned out great, even though the clams didn’t open up, which is always distressing. I hate it when I’m sold dud clams. I also pulled a couple tapas from my trusty ¡Delicioso! book: queso fresco con mojo de cilantro, and tostadas de escalivada y garum. Garum is a pretty potent anchovy and olive spread that apparently dates back to Roman times. I found it to be too intense on its own, but it goes great on toast with escalivada, which is essentially a mixture of roast eggplant, peppers, and tomato.

I adapted my paella recipe from ¡Delicioso! a long time ago. I cooked the paella outdoors on a charcoal grill, which is a little less precise than doing on the stove, but more fun.

Paella mixta (Meat and seafood paella)

6 cups chicken broth
½ pound medium shrimp, peeled
2 ripe tomatoes
3 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces*
Sea salt
6 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound Spanish chorizo (2 hot dog sized chorizo) cut into ¼-inch slices*
¼ pound piece of prosciutto, diced*
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1 bunch scallions (green onions), chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced*
2 teaspoon paprika*
1 cup frozen peas*
¼ teaspoon crumbled thread saffron
3 cups short-grain rice*
12 small mussels
12 small clams
1 roasted red bell pepper

* Notes on ingredients:
Spanish butchers hack the chicken to pieces, bones and all. Using boneless is therefore less authentic, but less of a pain to eat. Do NOT use Mexican chorizo; it is not the same as Spanish chorizo. I actually bought “Spanish-style” chorizo from our local over-priced gourmet-organic market. Spanish jamon serrano is actually better than prosciutto, but it’s easier to find the Italian stuff. For the paprika, I used pimentón that I brought back from Spain. For the rice, short grain is preferred; I used Calrose, which is technically medium grain. Do NOT use long-grain rice. It is a travesty and evil (at least in paella. It’s fine in other things).

1. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise. Squeeze gently to extract the seeds and with a coarse grater, grate down to the skin. Drain off any excess liquid (I actually did not drain off the liquid and it turned out fine. Call me crazy, but I think a little extra liquid doesn’t hurt).
2. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt. (Don’t be afraid to be generous).
3. Heat the olive oil in a paella pan. Stir-fry the chicken pieces about 10 minutes over high heat, until lightly browned on all sides. Remove to a plate.
4. Add the chorizo, ham, and shrimp, and stir-fry about 3 minutes. Take out the shrimp and set it aside. Stir the chopped green peppers, scallions, and garlic into the pan with the meats and cook over medium heat about 5 minutes. Stir in the paprika, then the grated tomato. Add the peas. Add the saffron. When this is all stirred together into a goop you can
5. Stir in the rice, combining it well with the mixture that’s already in the pan. Pour the chicken broth over the rice.
6. Return to a boil and simmer over medium or medium low heat for about 10 minutes. The dish should be no longer soupy, but there should be enough liquid left to continue cooking the rice.
7. Stir in the chicken and the shrimp and taste for salt. It should be well-seasoned. Arrange the mussels and clams over the rice WITH THE EDGE THAT WILL OPEN FACING UP (I once screwed up on this step; it doesn’t affect the flavor, but it looks silly and unattractive to pull the paella out with upside down mussels). Arrange the strips of roasted red bell pepper attractively over the top.
8. Close the lid on the barbecue and simmer for about another 10 minutes. Hopefully by this time the coals have burned down to the point that the cooking will be really gentle.
10. Remove from grill, cover loosely with foil and let sit another 10 minutes before serving.


Erika said...

All of these dishes were yummy. Thanks so much for inviting all the people you did. It was nice having such a big group. Let's do it again soon. Next time Kent has to come though. It wasn't the same without him.

Traductor said...

Extravaganza it was! Indeed, Kent was lacking, but all in all a good time was had.