Monday, October 22, 2018

Paella Party for My Parents #KitchenMatrixCookingProject


My parents' birthdays are five days apart. Well, two years and five days. Kinda funny that Jake and I  also celebrate our birthdays within a week - again, two years and a week. So, our family birthday celebrations are slightly easier to schedule because we have joint dinners for them and for us. This year, my parents were in Hawaii for my dad's birthday; I scheduled a party when they came back. Happy birthdays to Nonna and Nonno!


While they were in Hawaii, I asked my mom if they wanted lasagna or paella for their party. She didn't even hesitate...and she didn't ask for my dad's input either. "Paella!" she declared. Perfect timing, too, because I knew I needed to post a paella dish for this week's #KitchenMatrixCookingProject. Before I get to our paella party, here's what the other gals are sharing this week...






For years, my paella pan languished in the cupboard, collecting dust. Then a friend from Spain gave me a paella lesson. And it's been on our table pretty often after that. I just needed a confidence boost and a nudge. If I might say so myself, I have mastered getting that desired socarrat at the bottom of the rice! Practice indeed makes perfect.


This week I suggested the Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project crew use Bittman's Paella Generator as inspiration. You can read more about our year-long project here. In any case, Bittman gives universal directions and an ingredient wheel with suggestions that include mussels, squid, chickpeas, snowpeas, almond, bacon, and more. I went with prawns, chicken thighs, and littleneck clams for this paella party. I made two pans' worth. You can halve this recipe for a single pan.

Ingredients serves 12
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled (peels and heads reserved)
  • 1 pound littleneck clams, scrubbed clean
  • 12 T olive oil (Juan told me 1 T per serving)
  • 2 organic onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 bell peppers (I used a yellow bell pepper and a red bell pepper)
  • 5 ripe, organic tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 C Spanish paella rice
  • 2 generous pinches saffon
  • 2 Carmencita Paella Spice Mix sachets+
  • 2 coloring packets, optional+ 
  • 7 to 8 C fish stock, warmed
  • 1 to 2 C white wine
+Juan used these and they brought some back from Spain for me, so I use it. But, in a pinch, you can add a blend of paprika, pepper, and clove to the pot. These packets also include a food coloring that makes regular paella a rich golden color.

Procedure

Peel and dice the onions. Deseed and dice the bell pepper. Heat olive oil in the paella pan. Stir in the onions and bell pepper. Cook the chicken through. Sauté until the onion is softened and translucent. Add in the tomatoes and cook until they have lost their shape slightly, approximately 6 to 7 minutes.

Sprinkle the seasoning packet into the pot and add the saffron to the side so it's not where the heat is most concentrated. Tip in the rice.


Nestle the shrimp and clams into the rice. Pour in the stock and the wine. At this point, do not stir. Gently shake the pan to distribute the rice and seafood evenly. But do not stir. Ever. As Juan instructed me: "This is not risotto."

Bring the pan to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Watch the pan and keep turning it so that the rice cooks evenly. As it cooks, the stock will be fully absorbed.

You will see fewer and fewer bubbles popping up through the top. When it is completely dry, it's done. The rice should also be crackling. It reminds me of rice krispies. Snap, crackle, and pop!

When you no longer see any bubbles, remove the pan from the heat. The shrimp should be opaque and the clams open, too. Tent it with foil and let it steam for 10 more minutes.


To serve, use a flat spatula to scrape the soccarat from the bottom. Invert the scoop onto the individual plates to show off your soccarat, that delicious, crusty goodness on the bottom of the pan! 

2 comments:

  1. My specialty pan collection is kind of out of hand already, but I've always wanted a paella pan. This sounds delicious, and your socarrat looks fabulous. This was so fun! Thanks!

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  2. I needed to read your recipe before posting mine evidently. I never realized how important not stirring was. Bittman mentions it but I kinda ignored that LOL>

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