Friday, 28 July 2017 14:39

Yummy in my Tummy

Written by John Reardon
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Hello Foodie Friends. This time of year brings many family reunions, friendship gatherings, and special events that include great food and fun times!! Paella is a perfect party dish because it’s a one-pot meal, and because it feeds a crowd. Paella is a rice dish from Spain that has become very popular and is known around the world. It originated in the fields of a region called Valencia in eastern Spain. Paella is meant to show off the rice itself and to highlight a few special ingredients. These can be vegetables, fish, shellfish or meat including sausage in seafood paella and you may also find chicken in it. Do not forget the saffron -- it is the essential spice of the dish.
Whatever paella you make, it should use short- or medium-grain rice, which should be cooked uncovered in a flavorful stock. Spanish Bomba rice is the best to use. It’s fun to make paella over a grill or on the stove. However, it is important that you have the right pan for this dish; the Paella Pan! The Paella pan should be shallow and have sloping sides, which helps the rice cook evenly and develops more intense flavor. As the pans get larger, they grow in diameter rather than depth, which allows for more delicious socarrat. And like all authentic paella pans, they do not have matching lids (since paella is traditionally cooked in an open pan). We sell the traditional carbon steel pans and some stainless steel pans. Either will work well for you. A good pan has dimples on the bottom to serve several functions. They trap small amounts of liquid and thus promote even cooking, they make the pan rigid, and they prevent warping. Now what the heck is socarrat? When you make paella, socarrat is the caramelized bottom layer of rice that sometimes forms on the pan. Many people consider the socarrat the prized part of the paella. Also, there is speculation that socarrat has aphrodisiac powers, and that it is what fuels the passion of those renowned Spanish lovers. I myself am Irish, French and Italian so the passion is taken care of by the French and Italian parts. But I might like a little Antonio Banderas side of me to crop up from time to time! How about: tu es muy bonita Paula?
Here is an outstanding recipe for Seafood Paella
Ingredients
6 cups clam or seafood broth
1 tsp thread saffron
1 1/2pounds firm-fleshed fish, cut in bite-sized pieces
1dozen mussels
1dozen small clams
12 large shrimp in shells
Spanish sea salt
2 tbsp parsley, minced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp fresh thyme
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
8 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
6 scallions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 cups Bomba paella rice or Calasparra paella rice
Lemon wedges
Alioli (garlic mayonnaise)
Preparation
STEP 1
Heat broth in a large pot. Stir in saffron. Pat fish and shrimp dry with paper towels. Sprinkle with salt and let sit 10 minutes. Use a mortar and pestle to mash parsley, garlic, thyme and 1/8 tsp salt into a paste; stir in paprika. Add water if necessary to form a paste.
STEP 2
Heat 6 tbsp of oil in 15” paella pan over medium high heat and quickly brown the fish 1-2 minutes. Do not fully cook. Remove to warm platter. Add remaining 2 tbsp of oil, onion, scallions and bell pepper to paella pan and cook until the vegetables are slightly softened. Raise heat, add tomato and cook until it becomes sauce-like, 2 to 5 minutes. Pour in the hot broth and bring to a boil. Sprinkle the rice evenly across the pan. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring rice and rotating pan occasionally. Add all reserved fish (but not shrimp). Stir in parsley paste. Taste for salt. Do not stir after this point. Lower the heat, continue to simmer until rice is no longer soupy but enough liquid remains to continue cooking the rice (about 10 min.). Add extra liquid if necessary.
STEP 3
Arrange shrimp, clams and mussels over rice, placing edges of mussel and clam shells so they open facing up. Cook, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes until rice is almost done. Remove pan from the heat and cover with foil. Let sit 10 minutes. Garnish with lemon wedges and serve with fresh alioli.
We love Paella! It is yummy in my tummy!! If you are not sure what dish to serve for upcoming events this summer; consider Paella. At Compliments to the Chef located at 46 Marion Avenue in Saratoga Springs, we sell various sizes of Paella pans, saffron, and other cooking tools to help you with your creation. Stop by Saratoga Springs’ true kitchen essentials store for the supplies you need to eat, drink and be merry with family and friends! Remember: “Life Happens in the Kitchen” Take care, John and Paula .

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