Monday, August 24, 2009

Spanish Fare with Italian Flair - Paella Coast to Coast

Cooking Coast to Coast part 2

The Dish today was originally Paella a la Valenciana.

This was an interesting recipe for me in many ways. My approach kept changing. In the beginning I was cooking not only for people who, for religious reasons, cannot eat pork, but also for people who were allergic to seafood. (sigh) As a result, it became a very Chicken-centric dish…

Then as people canceled, I was suddenly able to add pork, (Yay!) but still no seafood (Aw!). With the pork ban lifted, I started hunting for Spanish Chorizo. This presented other issues.

Let's face it, San Diego is awesome for Mexican cooking ingredients; not so great for actual Spanish items though. In the end, I decided to just simply give up and cook what I know... Jamón Serrano became Speck; the Chorizo became Hot Italian Sausage; and the Chicken.... Well, it stayed chicken; and sans ANY seafood.

Then another person canceled and the seafood was back on... SO, with half the ocean in tow... I made a somewhat Italian-esque concoction, even though I DID finally find "Paella Rice" (although I have my doubts, since the bag doesn't actually say what kind of rice it is)

The best part about the Paella is the "socarrat" that forms on the bottom. This is similar to the Grossmutter that forms in the bottom of a fondue pot. Although in this case, instead of crispy caramelized cheese, it's crispy caramelized rice.... YUM!!!! I am SO looking forward to that.

AND I even found a Paella pan. Which was totally AWESOME!!

Because neither my cast iron nor copper skillets were big enough. Paella pans have fairly low sides; as the amount of paella you are making increases, the diameter of the pan increases. Mine has an aluminum core, which I guess is OK, but from what I have read, simple Carbon Steel is the preferred material.

Paella a la Valenciana (alla Italiano?)

Here is the recipe we used, with my changes in Parenthesis... As far as instructions, I have changed them according to what I did, replaced the ingredients... For the original ingredient list and instructions, check out Paella a la Valenciana

Servings: 6-8

6 cups of very strong chicken Stock (4 cups Chicken, 2 cups Vegetable Stock)
1/2 tsp of Saffron threads (Kashmiri not Spanish)
1/4 tsp of Smoked Spanish Paprika
1 small onion, peeled and cut in half

Heat the broth with the saffron, smoked Paprika and the whole onion.

Cover and simmer 15 – 20 minutes.

Remove the onion and strain the broth -- you need exactly 5-1/2 cups.

2 small chickens, about 2-1/2 lbs each (2 1/2 lbs of Chicken Thighs)
1/2 cup dry white wine (Soave – but would have preferred Pummelo or Dancing Bull Sauvignon Blanc)
1/2 cup olive oil (Sicilian Olive oil)
1/4 lb of cooking chorizo, in 1/4 inch slices (Hot Italian Sausage)
1/4 lb piece jamón serrano ham, diced (Speck – Smoked Prosciutto)
1 medium onion, chopped (1 Large Shallot)
4 scallions, chopped (1 Leek)
4 tbsp chopped garlic
2 roasted piquillo peppers (Roasted Red Bell pepper)
1 lb small or medium shrimp, shelled (1 lb Jumbo Shrimp, Cleaned & Peeled but with tail-on)
2 (Optional) Live lobsters, boiled, split and divided into tail sections and claws; discard or keep the head and small claws; or (Nope)
4 (Optional) Lobster tails, split lengthwise; (Nope)
8 (Optional) King crab claws; or (Nope)
8 jumbo shrimp, in their shells, preferably heads on; or (Nopity, Nopity, No)
2 North Atlantic Lobster tails, split Lengthwise.. (Yeppers)
3 cups Bomba or Calasparra rice or other short grain Spanish rice (Mine just said "Paella Rice")
5 tbsp chopped Italian Flat-Leaf parsley
2 bay leaves, crumbled
1/4 lb fresh or frozen peas
18 clams and/or mussels, scrubbed (16 mussels, 8 clams)
Lemon wedges for garnish (Meyer Lemon Wedges)
Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley for garnish

OK, I sliced, diced and chopped everything this time, which I normally don't do, cause I usually kind of wing it a little... There was a lot of stuff on this one and everything happens very quick, I was glad I was fully prepared this time....

Dry the chicken thighs with paper towels and season with salt.

Begin reheating the stock with the wine added to it.

In a metal Paella pan, with about a 15 inch base, heat the oil.

Add the chicken thighs and fry over high heat until golden; then remove to a warm platter.

Add the Italian sausage and speck to the pan and stir fry about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped Shallot, Leek, Garlic, and Roasted Red pepper and saute until the Shallot is wilted.

Add the Shrimp and the Lobster and saute about 3 minutes more, or until the shrimp and lobster barely turn pink (the lobster will cook more in the oven.) then remove the shrimp and lobster to the platter with the chicken.

Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat it well with the oil.

Sprinkle in the 5 TB of chopped parsley and the crumbled bay leaves.

Stir in the hot chicken stock/Wine, peas and salt to taste, then bring to a boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, over medium high heat about 10 minutes.

Bury the shrimp and the chicken in the rice.
Add the clams and the mussels, pushing them into the rice, with the edge that will open facing up and place the lobster pieces on, cut side down, then bake at 325 F, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit on top of the stove, lightly covered with foil, for about 10 minutes.

To serve, decorate with lemon wedges and chopped parsley. Oh, and I threw a pre-cooked Crayfish (crawdad) on top, just for fun... A tribute to Jambalaya if you will (even though it isn't Italian)

I had to cook mine a little longer... 15 minutes longer to be exact.
I removed the mussels, clams, chicken and lobster and put the rice back in because it was still crunchy after the initial 20 minutes.... and even with the extra time, some of it was still a little crunchy, while other portions had become gummy. More like a badly made risotto than a paella. Which kind of makes me wonder about the rice I was using. The most disheartening thing though, was that I didn't any "socarrat" on the bottom of my pan... :(
I was SO looking forward to that. (
sigh) Oh well.

Then again, it's a first try... so we shall see what happens when I try again. Oh yes, let there be NO doubt about that. I am gonna try it again. Sans seafood though, cause it gets a little spendy. But it
WAS definitely still tasty even if the texture was questionable. Which only proves the point (Never fear the kitchen, even a "disaster" is more than likely still edible) Although I have discovered that, while I love mussels, I am not fond of mussels and saffron together... Clams, Yes... Scallops, Yes... Mussels, not so much...

Regardless of my somewhat mixed emotions over this dish, I had promised people food. So I boxed everything up.

And put it all in my Thermal Carrier for delivery. ;)

As of yet, I have only heard that it does not survive reheating very well. Mostly because of the seafood.

For many more Paella Permutations, check out what my bloggin' BakeSpace buddies all came up with. Inspiration is just a click away.

Just click a pictures below: (the blog links will take you to their most current posts)

Spryte from Spryte's Place in Pennsylvania

Michele from My Italian Grandmother in Jersey

Danielle from Cooking for my Peace of Mind in California (with Guest Blogger, Cathy in Minnesota)

Moni from Alaskan Dermish in the Kitchen in, well, Alaska of course

And Martha in upstate New York



DutchBakerGirl said...

Looks fabulous, Shane! Btw, this guest blogger is from MINNESOTA. I know--it's all the same to you west coasters HeeHee. Let's do this again. It was fun!

Spryte said...

Shane yours looks AMAZING with all that gorgeous seafood on top!!

I didn't get the crispy bottom either... and I was really looking forward to it. Oh well... maybe next time.

Michele said...

I'm impressed that you got yours to be yellow! I guess I needed to be more generous with the saffron. I didn't get any of the crispy rice on the bottom. Sounds lovely though!

I hope your guests enjoyed your dish!

The Moon Muse said...

I am sooooooo jealous of you Paella pan! Great job Shane!

Heather S-G said...

mmmm...looks amazing anyway! I can almost taste that crispy rice crust. So glad you could put the seafood in there...for my eyes sake ;/ LOL!

matt74 said...

Dude that dish is incredible!..I love all of the technique that this dish requires..but you take it to the next level for true to your style!..Awesome!

DDpie said...

Rice? who cares (LOL)...look at all that yummy seafood!!!! Dude it looks awesome! I'm so doing this with you guys next time!

Bob said...

Looks great, even if it's full of fish. ;)

I've always loved the concept of paella, but not being a big seafood fan has kind of stunted my desire to make it.

Unknown said...

YUM! you got a paella pan? AND paella rice??? dude! It's amazing how this dish expands as you cook and add and cook and add. LOL. I didn't get the crusty bottom either. But mine tasted better the next day when I reheated it for lunch. maybe cuz there wasn't any seafood it.I love how pretty the seafood makes it look tho.

Patti T. said...

Shane, how oh how, did you get all that in that pan?? The sides looked so low, I just knew you were going to have to switch to a bigger pan. I guess looks can be deceiving. If I liked seafood this would be what I would want. I had heard about the crispiness on the bottom of the pan also, seems like no one got that. Very cool idea, everyone across the nation perhaps someday the world cooking the same thing with their own twist.