Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pilgrim's Paella

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I have a long history with Paella and not in a good way. I first tasted this dish when I was a chemistry instructor while having dinner at the house of one of the Professors. She was like a mother to us junior faculty members and will feed us every now and then knowing we lived off cooked food from the cafeteria. Unfortunately, she doesn't share her recipes so that was a bummer for me. She also made a killer Leche Flan but then again, her recipe was off limits to recipe snoops like me. The flan, that is of no concern to me now. The paella however is one thing that I always wondered about.

As a graduate student in Florida, I did dare make a version of paella using a recipe I found in one of my bargain hunt finds, a recipe compilation of signature dishes of Country Inns all over America. Well, that was a disaster since I tried to cheat my way around it by cooking the rice separately with the brilliant plan of mixing it later on to the cooked meat components. That was how I imagined it should be done. Now, it is common knowledge that Florida is very hot during the summer but even with the A/C running, the kitchen overheated and the rice cooker malfunctioned and cooked the rice raw. That stumped me and I ended up with gritty rice which I had to scrap away and ended up with paella that barely had any rice to it. 10 years have gone and I still have not dared to give this recipe another try until now. Valenciana, which is my Mom's favorite holiday dish was served for the New Year's eve celebration in Illinois at my cousin's friend's house so it got me to thinking that maybe, it is time. Valenciana is referred to as a poor man's paella but I want some redemption first so I'm going with paella and maybe later, Valenciana.

This is by no means an authentic paella dish that came from Spain. It is definitely a derivative since Spanish paella is very particular in terms of what goes into the dish. This usually depends on what region of Spain you are talking about. Versions of the dish are the Valencian, the Seafood paella and the mixed kind. My version, adapted from the Pilgrim's Inn paella recipe at Deer Isle, Maine, falls into the last category which is more relaxed in terms of the cooking method and the ingredients that is used. This will give me free license to adjust the ingredients as I see fit although the recipe needs very little changes to it. 

Pilgrim's Paella - Adapted*  

3 cups short grain rice (Sushi, Bomba or Arborio rice)
3-4 bacon slices, diced
1/2 lb chorizo, cut in halves
2 lb chicken thighs, skinned
2 lb pork, cut in large chunks
1/2 lb shrimp, deveined
1 lb clams and mussels
2-3 garlic cloves
1 onion, diced
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
1 cup small black olives
1 tbsp mustard, stone ground
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp oregano
pinch of saffron
1 tbsp safflower flowers
1/4 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp coriander
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil + more as needed
1/2 cup white wine or sherry
4 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 tomatoes, diced
10 oz frozen peas
lemon wedges, chopped parsley, and hard-boiled eggs for garnish

1. Render the bacon fat in a deep pot over medium heat. Once slightly
    browned, spoon out and set aside. Brown the chicken on both sides in
    the bacon fat and season with salt and pepper. Remove chicken and
    set aside. Add more oil if necessary while browning.

2. In the same pot, brown the pork pieces and season with salt and
    pepper. Remove from the pot and set aside. Fry the chorizo until
    browned. Remove from the pot and set aside.

3. Add the garlic and onion and saute until softened. Add the saffron,
    coriander, safflower, thyme, oregano and bay leaves and cook for about
    a minute or until aromatic. Add 1 cup of the broth and the sherry and
    bring to a boil. Add the clams and mussels and cook until they open.
    Remove immediately and set aside.

4. Add the mustard and return the chicken, pork and bacon into the pot
    and add the rest of the broth. Bring to a boil and let simmer on low
    heat until the meats are tender. If the chicken is cooked earlier
    than the pork, take out of the pot to avoid overcooking. When the
    pork is cooked, remove from the pot and set aside. Add the
    tomatoes and check for flavor and adjust accordingly.

5. Add the rice and cook at medium heat until the liquid has just
    evaporated. Return the chicken, chorizo and the pork and mix well.
    Add the red bell pepper, olives and the frozen peas and cover the
    pot. Reduce the heat to low until the rice is cooked.

6. While the rice is cooking, marinate the shrimp in the lemon juice
    and the olive oil. When the rice is cooked, add the shrimp with the
    clams and mussels and arrange on the pot evenly. Cover the pot until
    the shrimps are cooked.

7. To serve, arrange wedges of lemon and eggs on the edge of the pot
    and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Copyright 2012 LtDan'sKitchen blogs
I came across this issue and it might be a problem for you too. On step 5, adding back the meats to the rice resulted to a much bigger volume of food that would not fit in the pot. I ended up transferring everything into my roasting pan and sealing it tightly with foil before baking at 295°F until the rice is cooked. This took about 40 to 50 minutes. Once the rice was cooked, proceed as above.  

* Cole, N.M.; Cummins, M.J.: Editors, America's Country Inn Cookbook, R.T. French Company, New York: 1984.

No comments:

Post a Comment