Saturday, July 31, 2010

Spanish Ayes

I love paella although I make it all too infrequently. I guess it has something to do with getting enough people together to finish it in one sitting … since, due to its seafood content, it doesn’t keep. Let me first list the necessary ingredients: one small high-quality kielbasa (or chorizo), one good flavorful small chicken, a dozen mussels, a dozen littleneck clams, a pound of jumbo shrimp, a small jar of sliced pimento, a good-sized pinch of saffron, two cups of short-grain rice, a package of frozen Le Sueur peas, a half cup of good olive oil, a chopped up Spanish onion, four crushed garlic cloves, a teaspoon of smoked Spanish paprika, salt and pepper, lightly chopped Italian parsley, the wedges of one lemon, one cup of dry white wine, and two cups of water.

The process: Clean the shrimp and de-sand and clean the shellfish (soaking in cold water with a good handful of cornmeal). Then start with a paella pan (preferable) or a very large frying pan. Add the olive oil and heat it up. Cut the chicken up into 11 or 12 pieces (including cutting the breasts in two). Salt and pepper the chicken liberally. Fry the chicken until golden brown and place on a plate. Slice as much of the kielbasa or chorizo as is your taste (to me, kielbasa is preferable to chorizo) into ½ inch pieces and also fry it until slightly darkened. Also place this on a side dish.

Now to the remaining oil (augmented if need be) add the onion and garlic and sauté until transparent. Add the rice and cook until it gets a chalky white. Add the wine, water, saffron and paprika, stir briefly, and bring up to heat. Then stuff back the chicken and kielbasa into the rice and cover for about 15 minutes (or a little longer if uncovered). Next add the pimento, the peas and tuck in the shrimp, mussels and clams into the meat/rice mixture. Cook until the clams and mussels open (easier if covered) and the shrimp are pink. For a flourish you might top this off with a cut-up pre-steamed lobster. Take off the heat and sprinkle with the parsley and arrange the lemon wedges around the pan’s periphery.

Place on a good trivet in the center of the table next to a large pitcher of ice-cold, fruity red or white (my preference) sangria and a basket of crusty sour-dough baguette bread. This dish should easily feed (serving-oneself) eight to ten hungry people.

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