Paella suggestions

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by koukouvagia, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Recently a friend of mine returned from a trip to Marrakech and brought me some saffron as a gift.  I'm excited to use it and I have been planning on making a paella to celebrate my first dish with it.  I've made paella before but I'm afraid I've messed up a bit on the technique althought the flavors were good.

    What kind of rice should I use?  And I've never been able to make it without breaking down and stirring it and then putting the lid on the dish.  How on earth does the rice and shellfish cook without a lid??

    Here is my basic flavor profile:

    - shallots

    - garlic

    - chorizo

    - chicken thighs

    - vermouth

    - tomato paste or fresh tomato

    - green bell pepper

    - shrimp

    - clams

    - saffron

    In the end all the flavors work beautiffully together.  Any suggestions on making this an optimal dish?
     
  2. chrisbelgium

    chrisbelgium

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    Koukou, you may not like to hear this, but saffron from Marrakech is in my eyes already very suspicious. Believe me, I know Marocco. Chances that it's genuine saffron, may be tiny. But, it may certainly be the very real stuff after all. Don't blame your friend if it's not what it says, Maroccans can be a little commercially creative every now and then.

    Paella is made of round rice, mostly "bomba" variety, cutivated in the region of Spanish Valencia. It's perfectly interchangeble (all spanish readers; look elsewhere please) with Italian Arborio or even better, Carnaroli. Bomba may be not so easy to find.

    About your choise of ingredients; some will have to go.

    - shallots; preferably white onion instead. Shallots are too fancy.

    - garlic; yes

    - chorizo; yes, if it's the spanish one, no if Mexican stuff.

    - chicken thighs; yes, split in drumstick and thigh if whole legs

    - vermouth; no, there's no booz in paella

    - tomato paste or fresh tomato; fresh tomato in summertime, otherwise canned chopped tomatoes without the juice

    - green bell pepper; no, turns khaki when cooking. Better red pepper

    - shrimp; yes, and, in their shells

    - clams; no, too fancy for paella, do replace with fresh mussels

    - saffron; a pinch of threads

    Some green peas are a must.

    Cook the chicken for 45-60 minutes in your oven first until golden brown and all done. Just to play safe.

    Ratio's; 1 coffeecup of rice per person. Double of that chickenstock + 20% reserve. Please, do measure! For example; four persons need 4 cups of rice and 8 cups of chickenstock. But, do use 10 cups of stock, you better have some reserve at hand.

    Start by putting a good pinch of saffron in your chickenstock and put to a slight simmer. If the broth doesn't color yellow/red in 30 seconds and doesn't smell of saffron,... right, read the first paragraph again.

    You need a wide pan of course. Start on medium-low fire by putting in a good lot of olive oil and fry the chopped onions, garlic and red bell pepper until slightly colored. Push to one side of the pan. Now add the rice and fold over to coat all rice with oil and to get it a little translucent. Now add the stock in one time (keep the 20% reserve, just in case). The rice should be covered entirely. You can lay 2 sheets of aluminiumfoil loosely over the preparation.

    The whole thing will now be ready in approximately 20 minutes!! BTW, NO stirring like in risotto! Spanish men will even try to kiss you if the rice is a bit stuck at the bottom of the pan! Very, very wanted over there; I mean the stuck rice of course!

    At 15 minutes cooking time (taste rice for doneness first!!!); add the tomatoes, add the raw shrimp, add the raw mussels, add the cooked chicken, add the chorizo. To make it Spanish, add also a good handful of peas (frozen are OK).

    When mussels are opened, the whole dish is ready. Put some lemonwedges on it too and a sprinkle of chopped parcely for color.

    Wack the whole pan Spanish-style on your table. Olé! Que aproveche!

       
     
  3. benway

    benway

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    The first and most lengthy step to making Paella is to first make sofrito.  Sofrito is a base or sauce comprised primarily of tomatoes, garlic, and onions.  I have my own recipe for sofrito that I developed or you can use the following that is from a Spanish chef I worked with:

    Makes 3 cups, ingredients:

    2 yellow onions, peeled and diced

    2 red bell peppers, diced

    1/2 c olive oil

    6 plum tomatoes, peeled and diced

    6 cloves of garlic, minced

    2 T sherry vinegar

    1 poblano chile, diced

    1 T pimenton (hot, smoked paprika)

    pinch of saffron

    1/4 c diced jamon serrano

    Technique:

    Saute onions and peppers in oil until fragrent, about 20 minutes.  Add tomatoes and garlic and cook another 20 minutes.  Deglaze pan with sherry vinegar and stir in other ingredients.  Cook down for 10 minutes.

    I portion it about into 5th's and freeze.

    The rest of the process involves, mixing sofrito, rice, liquid, seasoning, and garnishes before cooking.

    Now for Paella with the flavorings above I'll remind you of the following.  Mexican chorizo and Spanish chorizo are totally different.  Spanish chorizo is seasoned with Pimenton and dry cured.  If Spanish chorizo simply isn't available, andouille sausage or some southwest sausage is what I would use instead.  As for the type of rice, Bomba, Calasparra, and Marjal rice are all ideal with Calasparra being my personal favorite.  I've never found any of these however outside of a professional kitchen.  The rice you are looking for is small without being starchy. Medium grain or even long grain are fine to use.  Remember that jambalaya was created by Spanish immigrants who were trying to make paella with what they could find here in America.  If long grain is ok for them then it might be ok for you.  This dish really is all about the rice though.

    Paella is traditionally made over a fire in a wide shallow pan known as a paellera.  The idea when cooking paella is to maximize the amount of rice touching the bottom of the pan, thus paelleras get wider instead of higher as the size increases.  Get the real thing or use the biggest skillet you've got.  Set my Paellera on the grill and this works well.  You don't want to stir Paella very much at all as you'd like to develop a socarrat, or toasted layer of rice on the bottom.  IMO this is the most important part!!!  The socarrat is to die for!  You'll know when to take it off the heat when you can smell this rice toasting.  Do your best to get the bottom as evenly toasted as possible, this is tough on a kitchen range.  After the paella comes off the heat it may still be a bit liquid.  You MUST cover the paella and let it rest 5 to 10 minutes.  A towel or aluminum foil will work well for this.

    To answer your question about the shellfish, you may cook it separately and add it later or just shove it into the rice along the way (which is how I do it.)  Shellfish doesn't take long to cook so this really isn't an issue.

    Another thing worth mentioning, many recipes I've found call for clam juice, chicken stock, etc.  I prefer my paella with just water.  Their are some bold flavors already in Paella, if you must use stock and clam juice, I recommend you at least dilute it.  You don't spend all that money on saffron just to turn the rice yellow--you want to taste it!
     
  4. benway

    benway

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    I've got to disagree with Mr. Belgium on using arborio rice.  The grains might look right but it is much much too starchy.  I'd rather be served paella made with long grain rice than arborio.

    I'll also not that once your rice is in the pan, you can add liquid slowly like a risotto, seeing how much it will absorb so long as you add more before it rests.  What I add liquid up to the first joint of my little finger above the rice.  This seems to be about right.and by getting the liquid in all right away you're less tempted to stir!
     
  5. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I always regret when I put mussels in my paella.  They're too overpowering and I always end up wishing I had put more clams in instead.  I love clams and from my understanding paella can be made with any ingredients you choose however simple or complex your recipe ends up being.  So I'm sticking to my green bell peppers as well since I love the flavor more than red bell pepper.  Peas I'm open to.

    I do hope I can get the rice nice and toasty.  It's always such a fine balance between adding enough stock/water and achieving a nice crisp bottom but also making sure the rice is cooked through.  Can I use Uncle Ben's?  The only type of rice mentioned I can find easily is arborio and I definitely don't want to use that.
     
  6. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I've made it with Arborio and wasn't impressed. I've used Basmati and been very happy with the results though it's not the classic form. Basmati and saffron go well together though and it has great texture in the result.

    Put in what you like. I've had good versions with rabbit and sausage and seafood mixed.
     
  7. french fries

    french fries

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    I always put rosemary in my paella! I love the flavor it imparts. Also a healthy dose of pimenton (smoked paprika). Both green and red peppers too.
     
  8. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    You can't go wrong with paella, and I'm not particular about being "authentic" as far as flavors are concerned.  It's like risotto: throw anything you want in there, what makes it authentic is the technique, not the ingredients.
     
  9. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Years ago Gourmet had an article written by expats living in Spain. They had decided on paella one night, and their housekeeper asked, "do you want a rich man's paella or a poor man's?" When they asked what the difference was she explained it was in the choice of ingredients.

    In other words, KK is correct. Paella is a matter of how it's made, not, specifically, what is included. I would compare it more to jambalaya than rissotto, in that regard, but the point is the same.

    Personally I'd be leery of using short grain rice in a paella, for fear it would become sticky.
     
  10. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Oh no, now my attention is diverted and I've decided to make jambalaya instead.  Thanks KY.
     
  11. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Ahhhh, KK. My work here is done. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/licklips.gif

    Actually, I figure if you set out to make a paella, and the rice doesn't get crispy, you just call it jambalya. Your guests will never know.
     
  12. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  13. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    I had a few Spainish Parties several years ago....one was wild, the guest of honor was from "Brussels"....oops NOT, she was from Barcelona...It was totally a shock to be making food for a Spainard.  When I'd never really played with Spainish food, nor had been to Spain.

    I was tying to dig up menus, but I remember making:

    salt cod with possibly a cream based sauce...I remember is was a multiday deal soaking the cod.

    lamb and almond meatballs

    I honestly don't remember the other aps

    cheese platter with Spainish cheeses, membrillo, marcona almonds,dried figs, grapes, cool crackers with evo...some had fennel

    the paella had sofrito, bomba rice (love baby bomba), shrimp, squid including testicles (/img/vbsmilies/smilies/wink.gif) mussels, chorizo, chicken

    Sherry vin dressing for the green salad

    Sherry selection to go with the cheeses

    Flan...

    anyway those are the pix from one of the parties.
     
  14. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Lovely pics shroom!  I've been in the mood for a good rice dish lately.  Luckily the jambalaya turned out well but I've still got an itch for paella and using up my new saffron.  I think I'll add squid to mine as well.
     
  15. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    loads of testicles make it tasty.
     
  16. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I hope you meant tentacles!!!
     
  17. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    I'm not quoting you shroom so that you have the chance to erase your post from existance.  But I think you meant tentacles.  Lol /img/vbsmilies/smilies/biggrin.gif

    Which are my favorite part of the squid by the way.  The fact that nobody else wants to eat them really works out very well for me especially when they're fried.  Growing up we used to call them the moustache (I still do I admit) because if you hold it up near your upper lip it looks like a moustache.
     
  18. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    Don't include me with that "nobody else," KK. I love them.

    But, you know, as the cook I can pretend that they're not worth putting on peoples plates. Selfish of me, I know....../img/vbsmilies/smilies/smoking.gif
     
  19. shroomgirl

    shroomgirl

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    sorry referencing a hilarious Pro thread....

    funniest sayings from customers:"can i get my calimari with less testicles"

    still giggling, just into sophmoric humor.....
     
  20. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Come back to Utah in Late May, I can take you up to Woodruff for the Testicle Festival, mostly sheep.