I tried my hand in doing Paella several years ago when I was still starting in the kitchen and contributing articles to Iska. It was one of those dishes I vividly recall of finishing an entire pan by myself out of hunger and excitement. I missed eating Paella. It was one of those ‘one-pan wonders’ where everything can be had using a spoon. It’s extremely luscious, contagious and to some extent, dangerously addictive with all the fat content and grease used in its creation. The distinct Saffron taste also stood out.
After traipsing and enjoying myself in Catalonia for a couple of days, I made a decision of trying my hand again at cooking Paella. My point-of-view has shifted to the other side of the fence (as a traveling foodie and tourist scorning those suffering in the kitchen, temporarily that is) and for the last couple of years has initiated back to reading books that interest me the most-food & the martial arts. I badly needed some motivation and inspiration (for both), and I guess they were the ready answers to my calling-whatever that maybe. I also had the opportunity of writing about my ever wandering thoughts and ideas in a nutshell during the week through this blog; sometimes they ( the ideas) just pop out of nowhere. It does help when I feel estranged and diminutive in society. Those moments of sinking-in and shying away, in one way or the other, brings forth satisfaction of my skills or worth.
I am totally grateful to Iska for introducing me to blogging. My world does not revolve around to just work or Tai Chi anymore. Moreover, I found somebody else who understands the meaning of hardwork and life living away from home despite the distance and sometimes the difficulty of catching one another on-line. Every minute in every conversation, however short or muddled, is cherished.
Cooking one-pot meals or one-pan meals in this case brings total comfort to that swirling imagination of mine and sometimes, apprehension or dissatisfaction to self. Moving away and being with society, mingling and socializing with them as a real human being, for at least just a short bit of time (wish it was longer) can be gratifying; knowing this willful act and intention will be repeated in the future. I’ve discovered so much and I’m looking further on to see what’s really out there.
I used Basmati Rice when I did my first Paella. I learned to love Basmati for its healthy connotation and easy preparation. I was taught in Culinary School how to make Rice Pilaf and Basmati Rice was the medium. It’s relative cheap and it’s as abundant as parboiled or Jasmine. I really don’t recall what other spices I’ve inputted into that dish, but I remember giving the sauté pan to my ex-wife just to get rid of the clutter building up in my apartment. Glad I did. It was a very, very heavy sauté pan meant to serve a small group of about 5 or 6 and I’d lived alone for about three when I had it. This, I believe, is the much better version of the last. I used Italian Arborio as substitute and infused authentic Spanish Saffron (Azafran) and Chorizo into the dish. I know I didn’t add those in the first.
- 1 Turkey Thigh
- 1 Chorizo
- Garlic, chopped
- Spanish Onion, finely chopped
- Parsley, finely chopped
- Laurel (Bay leaves)
- Chicken Stock
- Saffron (a few strands)
- Paella Mix (Con Azafran or Sazon)
- Sea Salt
- Ground Black or White Pepper
- Lemon Juice
Start by steeping the chicken stock with the Saffron. The stock should be more than enough to cook the rice.
Cut the thighs in bite-size pieces and season with salt and pepper. Brown the thighs (skin side down) in olive oil and set aside. Cut the chorizo in a bias and pan fry on the same pan. Add a little more oil if necessary. Set aside.
Start sautéing the onions, followed by the garlic and the rice. Continue sautéing until the rice becomes a little toasty. Slowly incorporate the stock in the pan. Season as you go. Add the bayleaves and the Paella Mix together with the thighs and gently fold the rice in. Shove in a preheated 350’C oven for ten to fifteen minutes or cover until the rice is cooked. Stir occasionally.
Check the doneness of the rice and the thighs every now and then and add more stock along the way. When both are nearly cooked, lower the temperature of the oven to 180’C and let them all blend in nicely. Each rice kernel should be coated with the yellow substance ( coming from the saffron). Squeeze some lemon juice and add more seasoning before making one final stir. Discard the bay leaves.
Top with the cooked Chorizos, sprinkle with sea salt and drizzle with olive oil before serving. Garnish with finely chopped Parsley.
This Paella is more straightforward than probably a Pinoy’s version where tomatoes and tomato paste are added in the cooking process. This is simplicity at its best where the quality and taste of the Saffron and Con Azafran, Chorizos and Olive Oil stand out. If I had used Spanish Rice and Rabbit, this Paella would have brought an entire nation to its feet.
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