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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Nights of Spain

Of a recent Friday night, we had friends for dinner with a Spanish theme. No, I've never been to Spain (though one of my brothers went there on his mission)--I just had some Spanish chorizo in the freezer I wanted to use up. So, paella it would be. We started with a spread of Spanish cheeses, fig-almond paste, bread and crackers, and olives (the olives aren't in this picture, but you can see them in the first picture of the big table--there were medium-sized anchovy-stuffed ones, and little tiny ones).

Then the paella. It's not really that short on ingredients, but when you're making basically a one-dish meal, you get a lot of bang for your food-prep buck. I've never made a traditional recipe (this was my first paella), and I don't know why I'd bother when Cook's Illustrated has already done the paring down, and this one was so tasty!
adapted from Cook's Illustrated, May/June 2005
serves 6 (for our crowd of 10, I basically 1.5xed this recipe, and it was just right)

1 lb extra-large (21/25) shrimp, peeled and deveined
table salt and ground black pepper
olive oil
8-9 medium garlic cloves, pressed
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and halved crosswise
1 red bell pepper, roasted, skinned, and cut into strips (I served these separately because of an allergy among our guests)
8 oz Spanish chorizo, sliced 1/2" thick on the bias
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, drained, chopped, and drained again
2 C Valencia rice
3 C homemade chicken broth
1/3 C dry white wine
1/2 t saffron threads, crushed
1 bay leaf
1 doz mussels, scrubbed and beards snipped
1/2 C frozen peas, thawed
2 T chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350 (since I was using a cast-iron dutch oven, I put the lid in the preheating oven so a cold lid wouldn't slow down cooking later). Toss shrimp, 1/4 t salt, 1/4 t black pepper, 1 T oil, and 1 t garlic in medium bowl; cover and refrigerate. Season chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.

2. Heat 2 t oil in large dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Brown chicken pieces in a single layer (not moving them while they cook), then transfer to a bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add chorizo to pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until quite browned and beginning to render fat, then transfer to bowl with chicken.

3. Adjust fat in pot to equal 2 T and heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, then add garlic and cook until fragrant.

Stir in tomatoes and cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice and cook until well coated. Stir in wine and cook until evaporated/absorbed, then add broth, saffron, bay, and 1/2 t salt. Return chicken and chorizo to pot, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until rice absorbs almost all liquid, 15 minutes (or so). Pull out pot and uncover. Scatter shrimp over rice, nest mussels in rice hinged side down, arrange pepper strips in pinwheel pattern, and scatter peas over top. Cover and return to oven, cooking until shrimp are opaque and mussels have opened, 10-12 minutes (mine needed a bit more time on both cooking segments, probably because I was making a larger batch).

4. Let stand, covered, 5 minutes before serving. Toss any unopened mussels, sprinkle with parsley, and serve, passing lemon wedges at the table.

We had Izze sodas to drink: pear, pomegranate and clementine.

After the paella I served a simple salad of mixed greens, aged Spanish Mohan cheese, and grape tomatoes, dressed with EVOO and sherry vinegar. For dessert, fresh strawberry ice cream!

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Blogger Swizzies said...

YUMMY. Except the olives with anchovies -- BLECH!! I accidentally bit into a whole huge one and nearly yakked up my guts in a tapas bar recently. Anchovies are for PENGUINS not HUMANS.

Also, mussels make my throat itch, so I probably shouldn't eat them, right?

That all said, I like the more americanised version of Paella that Cook's came up with. Sounds really yum.

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs seem to be the new thing. I would like those I think.

June 20, 2008 at 1:21 AM  
Blogger The Laundry Queen said...

The food looks nummy and all that, but what I really love is your dutch oven! I love the size, color, ironess of it, etc. I want!

June 20, 2008 at 6:54 AM  
Blogger Krista said...

Your adventuress cooking amazes me! I need to get more creative. You've inspired me. Thanks!

June 20, 2008 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger janeannechovy said...

I don't like olives or shellfish, I was just serving for my friends who do--big of me, eh? Especially since it meant peeling all of those shrimp. At least they already had their heads cut off.

The dutch oven is Martha Stewart collection from Macy's. I got it for Christmas from Dad, when it was marked down to 50% off. I would keep your eyes peeled, and if they go that low (it made it about $60), snap one up. I love the robin's egg blue, too. It's not as nice in terms of quality as a Le Creuset (the enamel's already chipped in a couple of places), but it otherwise works like a charm. I have the 7.5-qt one, and I think it also comes in 5.5 qt.

Thanks, Krista--I don't feel all that creative when I'm just following a recipe! If you want to see really creative cooking, head over to Adriana's blog and browse the archives.

June 21, 2008 at 10:41 AM  

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