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Trading Socorrat for Sunflowers


A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend who was getting ready to leave on a 3-week trip to the Italian Alps. When I offered to cook for her boys a few nights while she and her husband were gone, she said the boys would love it. So, for two evenings this week, I've been feeding five boys! On Tuesday I made paella for the boys and they brought me flowers. It was perfect!


It was nice to spend an evening with them. The older one is now 21-years-old, but when he was a teenager, I looked at him...and his parents...with comfort that there is hope that my kids will like me and continue to communicate with me through these tumultuous teenage years.

Here was my trade: soccarat for sunflowers!

Ingredients serves 8
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 pound fresh shrimp, peeled (peels and heads reserved)
  • 8 T olive oil 
  • 1 organic onion
  • 3 to 4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 bell pepper (I used a yellow bell pepper)
  • 3 ripe, organic tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 C Spanish paella rice
  • 1 generous pinch saffon
  • 1 Carmencita Paella Spice Mix sachet+ 
  • 5 to 6 C fish stock, warmed

+Juan, my Spanish friend who taught me how to make paella, used this 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 your pan. Add onions and bell pepper. Sauté until the onion is slightly softened. Add the chicken and cook through.


Stir in the garlic. 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. Pour in the stock. At this point, do not stir. Gently shake the pan to distribute the rice and seafood evenly. But do not stir. Ever. As Juan, my paella guru, 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. Tent it with foil and let it steam for 10 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! 

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