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Paella


blakegwinn
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Anyone have a really good recipe or any tips for making Paella? I have never made it but I got a good deal on some Saffron at this Indian grocery store and I was thinking of making Paella this weekend.

A cousin of Jonathan's, who grew up in Spain and is an excellent cook has served his paella to us on a number of occasions. He told me that it is important to cook the shrimp, clams and mussels separately and assemble the paella just before serving, so that the seafood doesn't get overcooked.

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Most of the paella recipes you'll find on the internet are hopelessly inauthentic (if my paella mentor is to be believed, but he was from Barcelona, not Valencia) and call for too many pots, or parboiling the rice separately (!) or other crutches like covering the dish or finishing in the oven. This one is actually pretty reasonable, and describes the correct procedure for adding the uncooked prawns and shellfish after the rice has been added and is well on its way to finishing. This Taunton article also provides good advice. Apart from the sofrito, rice and saffron, the choice of meats is meant to be ad-libbed. This is a hodgepodge dish, with most of the work meant to happen in the uncovered paella pan.

Tips: use a proper metal paella pan (available from A&H Seafood in Bethesda). You'll never get the right rice texture out of stoneware. Try to conserve as much liquor out of the shellfish as possible for use as the "stock", especially shrimp stock if you're cleaning some to include with the meats. The critical step is the uniform cooking of the not-too-thick layer of rice, so it really is best to cook over a broad bed of coals with a lot of surface area...the best is a shallow campfire, but one of those cheap square patio charcoal grills works well in the suburbs. Level the pan as much as possible, and let the pattern of bubbling across the pan be your guide. I was taught to vigorously pitch the rice into the pan sauce and meats to help get everything coated, but you should still jiggle the pan afterwards to even out the rice layer. Once initially distributed, do NOT disturb the rice...it's meant to set in place and to begin to form a bottom crust. Use Spanish rice, not Italian...it's meant to finish a little dry and a little toothy, not creamy like risotto.

On the other hand, if you blow off any of the rules, the result will still come out pretty tasty. I've improvised them using Trader Joe's frozen seafood medley, breakfast links and Uncle Ben's cooked over a butane cartridge stove and it didn't totally suck. Good luck!

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This Taunton article[/url] also provides good advice. Apart from the sofrito, rice and saffron, the choice of meats is meant to be ad-libbed. This is a hodgepodge dish, with most of the work meant to happen in the uncovered paella pan.
That article is the first I used with very happy results. Also w little haricots verts (French fillets at Spring Valley Farm), frozen artichoke hearts from Trader Joe's, red bell peppers, chicken thighs, Arborio rice and Spanish chorizo. Don't own a true paella, but didn't chop up a rabbit to cook outdoors, either.

Al Dente: ever seen the Giant Paella that Jaleo makes? Yours sounds like the runt of the formidable litter that theirs came in.

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A pilgramage to the absolute source:

http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/t...-europe/?page=4

Photos:

http://www.travelandleisure.com/slideshows...es-of-europe/11

A recipe (but not the one I use):

http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/paella-valenciana

This is the one that I have made for 35 + years which is called "Playboy Paella" and first appeared in 1971 in "Playboy's International Gourmet." It became something of a standard, the most popular recipe in this, Playboy's first cookbook. Over the years I have made Paella many, many different ways. This non traditional shellfish and game paella is still the best. When preparing it make certain that you cook it enough to create a "crust" on the bottom of the pan.

There is NO restaurant in the D. C.area that makes a paella that even begins to approach this, not Taberna nor anyone else. I would also suggest that when correctly made this is better than most of the paellas you will find outside of Valencia such as the icon noted above. This is also very expensive to make; the ingredients noted will run more than $100, perhaps much more. Still, this is a great dish, worth the effort and the investment.

1½ pounds Center cut pork loin

2 Chicken breasts; 4 halves, boneless and skinless

½ pounds Chorizo sausage; 1/4" slices

1 pounds Sliced leg of veal pound thin as scalloppini

1/4 lb chicken livers

Olive oil

3 large Garlic cloves; minced

1 large Spanish onion; minced

¼-1/2 teaspoon Saffron powder

½ teaspoon Oregano

2 cup Bomba rice

5 cups chicken stock

2 Sweet red peppers or canned pimentoes, coarsely chopped

2 Sweet green peppers, coarsely chopped

1 pounds Raw fresh shrimp; shelled & devein

½ pounds Fresh mushrooms; sliced thin

½ pounds fresh Bay scallops

1 pounds Fresh peas

Or

10 ounce Package frozen peas

Salt and ground pepp

Trim bone and fat from pork; cut into 1 inch squares, 1/4 inch thick. Cut the chicken crosswise into 1" chunks. Cut veal into 1" squares. Cut chicken liver pairs in half. Cut the peppers into 1/2" squares, discarding stems, seeds and membranes. Shell fresh peas. Heat paella pan; add 1/2 cup oil; add pork and saute until it is a deep brown; remove from pan. Add chicken, chorizo, veal, chicken livers and saute until light brown; remove from pan. Wash and dry pan. Heat pan; add 1/2 cup oil over low heat; add garlic, onion, saffron, oregano and rice. Stir well. Saute, stirring constantly, 5 minutes. Add chicken stock, pork, chicken, chorizo, veal, chiciken livers, peppers, shrimp, mushrooms, and scallops. Bring to a boil. If chicken stock is unseasoned, add 1 to 2 tsp salt. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Add peas and simmer 15 to 20 longer stirring gently, but as only as needed to keep ingredients from sticking to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper

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Add chicken stock, pork, chicken, chorizo, veal, chiciken livers, peppers, shrimp, mushrooms, and scallops. Bring to a boil. If chicken stock is unseasoned, add 1 to 2 tsp salt. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Add peas and simmer 15 to 20 longer stirring gently, but as only as needed to keep ingredients from sticking to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper

That sounds like some seriously boiled meat, seafood, and veggies.

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Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I used a hybrid of the Iberia, Taunton and Tyler Florence methods. After having made it I really think this is the best way to do it, half winging it and half bits and pieces of other recipes. Because of the differences in the pan, heating method, rice variety and choice of add-ins I think you need to have a certain amount of flexibility.

I used the Arborio rice since I already had it in the cabinet. It worked just fine and not having a true paella pan I had to use my biggest Caphalon skillet. I have some aluminun pans which would have made a nicer crust probably but they are all too small for the amount of paella I wanted to make. For add ins I used chorizo, squid, chicken legs, clams, shrimp and a few reallllly good sea scallops. I cooked the chorizo and sea scallops separately and added them, and all the other sea food elements, with about 10 minutes of cooking left over. The chicken legs were browned and left in from the start. Oh I also topped it with a bunch of thawed green peas with about 5 minutes left. This really turned out better than any of my expectations. I was really proud of myself. I didn't think a crust was forming so when I put in the green peas I turned my burner all the way up for the last five minutes just to kind of artificially toast the bottom. That actually worked pretty well.

I will say that I find this to be a pretty difficult/labor intensive dish. I think risotto is a lot easier because you can gauge the liquid levels, eye it and make adjustments during the process. With the Paella you pretty much have to guess the correct amount of liquid pretty early if you want a crust to form on the bottom. I feel like I didn't use enough liquid at the start and my late addition of extra liquid is what kept the bottom from crusting up and created the need for the high heat blast the last 5 minutes. But if you overestimate and put too much liquid in at the beginning, the rice will soak up too much water by the time the bottom starts to crust. Seems like this could be pretty tricky and a good reason to use the same type and brand of rice every time.

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I am making Paella. Can I use Basmatti rice (that I have a lot of) in place of spanish short rice?

I'd be hesitant not so much for the size of the rice, which is longer, but for the fragrance it would impart such that it may alter the flavors that you're looking for in a paella. And, I wouldn't use more saffron to mitigate as it can impart a tinny, almost medicinal flavor when overused.

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I am making Paella. Can I use Basmatti rice (that I have a lot of) in place of spanish short rice?

You can use Goya medium grain rice. That's what Fine Cooking recommends if you can't find bomba, or if you don't want to pay $18 a pound for it. You can pick it up anywhere, I buy it at Shoppers, and I've used it with great success.

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I'd be hesitant not so much for the size of the rice, which is longer, but for the fragrance it would impart such that it may alter the flavors that you're looking for in a paella.

not only the flavor of basmati would be wrong, but long grain rice has a completely different texture than short grain Spanish rice, when cooked. you could substitute an Italian arborio rice in a pinch, but if you are near A&H, they have some Spanish rice that is not very expensive, or bomba, which is costly. I mean, go ahead and use basmati rice if you want, just don't call it paella cause it won't be.

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looks like I will be stopping by A&H this afternoon. Many thanks for all the responses, I will post the results

Scott, super-friendly knowledgeable people at A&H. Engage with them, and they'll steer you either to the bomba if you want to spend the $$$, or the right substitute if not.

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Scott, super-friendly knowledgeable people at A&H. Engage with them, and they'll steer you either to the bomba if you want to spend the $$$, or the right substitute if not.

How much is this bomba, and is the bomba 'da bomb for paellas?

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How much is this bomba, and is the bomba 'da bomb for paellas?

No prices mentioned, but several places to buy bomba listed here. I think the crux of the matter as to whether it's a must-have is how much you care about authenticity (which obviously is a part of flavor -- you want your paella to taste like what paella should taste like, if there is a Platonian paella ideal, I guess?). :) Having never had an ideal paella, though, I suppose I'm just rambling.

(Sign me,

Still Stuck in the Cave Staring at the Wall)

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How much is this bomba, and is the bomba 'da bomb for paellas?

Basically, bomba rice is a DOC product from a certain region that must pass certain standards to be called "bomba," just like wines with DOC designations do. It is a short to medium grain rice that gets fatter when it cooks, and doesn't get creamy like arborio or sticky like Asian rices. The grains will and should stay separate in the finished dish, but not pilaf separate. For anywhere between $7-18 bucks a pound, with as much paella as I make, well, yikes. That's some serious cash for a difference I can't taste. I've had paella with both bomba and regular Spanish-style medium grain rice, and I can't tell the difference in the rice types. I've had crappy paella made with bomba, and excellent paella made with cheap rice. IMHO, the ability of the person cooking the paella and the quality of the ingredients you add to the rice are going to be your key factors.

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Bomba $20 bucks, Great substitute was 3.50... You can guess which one I bought. I also picked up a great pan and got a lesson is fresh fish. This place is really really good and the prices are great as well.

DanielK I owe you one, and Zora and everyone else who told me to go here over the years.

How much is this bomba, and is the bomba 'da bomb for paellas?

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I just started playing around with paella, and like with most other dishes I try to teach myself how to cook, I generally like to start with the most authentic raw materials and then, once the technique is mastered, start substituting and riffing. Of course, with bomba at $12 a kilo, that's a good place to start subbing. Though let's face it - you can't sub for the saffron, and it's at least as expensive per portion as the rice.

Both Fine Cooking (June/July 2010) and Saveur (April, 2010) have run excellent primers on paella making; they offer different techniques in some ways, but both hew to the traditional stove top cooking method.

Home made stocks (both seafood and chicken) will make a tremendous impact. Pimentón and traditional Spanish chorizo are important, too. As is cooking the sofrito until it's a deep, dark red - Fine Cooking suggests 30 to 40 minutes.

Big thing to remember is that paella is all about the rice. So don't muck it up with too many ingredients; I think they call that American style :) .

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I figured I'd share my recent paella experiences - I've been cooking it practically nonstop, as I am using it as a fundraiser for our upcoming marathon in Madrid (to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society).

My first batch was kind of a disaster - yes, it was edible, but the arborio rice ended up too creamy (through no fault of its own - that's what it's supposed to do), the chicken ended up undercooked (I cooked it in the actual paella pan, and somehow it didn't conduct the heat properly), and the saffron flavor was nearly nonexistent (a bummer when the spice is so darn expensive). I fiddled with the "recipe" a bit, combined various suggestions and techniques, and came up with a pretty awesome product.

First, I give the chicken (bone-in, skin-on, legs and thighs, rubbed with pimenton, salt, pepper, and dried oregano) a good sear in my trusty stainless steel skillet, and then I set it aside. While I'm doing that, I gently steep the saffron threads in some chicken stock. My sofrito consists of tomatoes, onion, garlic, piquillo peppers, and a little bit more "raw" saffron. Once that is good and thick, back in goes the chicken with some stock, just to simmer for a bit and continue cooking. Then I add the Bomba rice (worth the money, in my opinion - though I can only find it once place in Atlanta), haricots verts (which have already been blanched), and the rest of the stock, and I try my darndest to leave it alone. If I'm using shrimp, they get tucked into the rice/stock about 5 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Once I turn off the heat (and, FYI, I place my paella pan so that it straddles two burners), I cover with foil and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Voila!

Sometimes I use chorizo (though I haven't found one that I like in nearby stores), sometimes I sub peas for the green beans, and I've even done a pretty respectable vegetarian version (though I find I have to use extra seasoning, due to the lack of meat and chicken stock). Once I figured out the basics, the rest is pretty easy to riff based on the audience and the ingredient availability. Lemon slices are always crucial when serving, though! :D

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