Monday, August 10, 2009

Paella with Xavi

Our very good friend Xavi from Spain visited us this weekend and we had an incredible time showing him around Seattle. We went out to see Eldridge Gravy - which was a kick ass energy packed show - on Friday night. On Saturday we went to Theo Chocolate in Fremont and down to the Pike Place Market for groceries and to have lunch at Uli's Sausage. I'll digress for just a minute to give a little plug for Uli's. If you haven't checked out Uli's for a while you may not know that they turned what used to be the sausage factory into a nice little eating area where you can get grilled sausages and have beer from the Alpine Brewing Co. Uli's is so fricking great; actually the whole market is just amazing. On a different path of digression; I get annoyed when Seattleites dismiss the Market and proclaim it to be for tourists. I love the market. It is touristy, but that's because it's great. It's one of the last of its kind in the US and a true treasure. I try to walk down to the Market at least a couple times a month. OK enough of my digressions. We got what we needed and headed home to cook up one of the gastronomic highlights of the weekend, seafood and chicken paella. It was done with a lot of Spanish intuition so I tried to take notes as Xavi cooked but this is kind of a rough recipe.


Paella Recipe

ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 2 dried ancho chilies - with the stem and seeds removed
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 chicken - pieced
  • ~20 shrimp, shells left on
  • ~20 calamari, cut into rings
  • ~20 mussels
  • 1 tsp of Chiquilin Food Colourant (optional)
  • 28 oz can whole tomatoes - lightly puree in blender
  • 1 bag of frozen peas
  • ~3.5 cups paella rice
  • ~10 cups of 50/50 chicken stock and water
This recipe if for a 22 paella pan. This is the size that conveniently fits on a Weber BBQ. Starting inside on the stove add ~ 1 cup of olive oil to a large frying pan and fry the dried anchos over medium heat until almost burnt. They have done their job and imparted the oil with the necessary flavor so just discard them at this point (keep some that aren't blackened if you want a stronger chili flavor). Next, with the skins still on, fry the garlic cloves until very cooked and starting to blacken. Reserve these. Then fry the bell pepper until it's well cooked and reserve. Now on med-high, fry the chicken with the intention of browning it. It's not necessary to fully cook the chicken since it can finish cooking in the paella pan. The pan is nice and hot now and you can cook the shrimp - with their shells still on - very fast and finally the calamari rings will cook in literally just a flash. Add your canned tomatoes and fry untill reduced and thick. OK now your done inside.

You will have to work out the timing but meanwhile you will have started a nice hot charcoal fire. I used one full chimney of mesquite charcoal plus a couple extra pieces to fill out the grill. Set your paella pan over the fire and add ~ 1/2 cup olive oil and all of your rice. Stir it making a nice even layer over the pan and cook stiring frequently untill the rice begins to smell nice and sweet, a little popcorney. Make a nice uniform layer with the rice; at this point you will not stirr the rice again. Place on top of the rice your chicken pieces and all of the other fried yummies except for the tomatoes. Carefully, but quickly taking care not to burn your rice, add half the stock water mixture. In the remaining stock mixture stir in the tomatoe sauce and add to the paella. Finally add the muscles to the paella pushing then down into the liquid. Now all you have to do is make sure you have an even fire and rotate the pan if necessary and wait. DO NOT STIR. If you are running out of water and the rice is still not done you may need to add a small amount. You want to run out of water just as the rice is finishing and then leave it on the heat for a little while longer to brown the bottom. This crackly bottom is extra yummy.

I hope this is clear enough. If you have questions feel free to ask me.





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