Sunday, August 07, 2011

Pie-Ay-Uh, Pie-el-lah

You like potato and I like potahto,
You like tomato and I like tomahto;
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto,
Let's call the whole thing off!
- from "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" by George and Ira Gershwin

Whenever I mention that I'm thinking about making paella, Dave immediately says "Puh-AY-zhuh." He's not correcting me, he's merely referring to an episode of Lynne Rossetto Kasper's "Splendid Table" where the sexy, lushly accented voice of Anya Von Bremzen discussed the art of making…well…puh-AY-zhuh, forever changing the way he thinks of that word.

Recently we had friends coming over for dinner. They're big fans of anything cooked over a fire and we were discussing what might be fun to make for them. All the major animal and piscean groups were covered and nothing was striking that special "gotta have it" chord. Then I mentioned paella, and the above-mentioned conversation ensued.

And for those who've never made it, whether on a stovetop or grill, the ingredient list may look long, but it comes together quickly and easily once the chopping and dicing is done. I just put everything in small bowls on a tray (the diced chicken and mussels wait in the fridge), have the stock in a pan on the stove, and I'm good to go when the fire's ready.

For drinks to kick off the warm summer evening Dave made the very refreshing Souracher from local bartender extraordinaire Dave Shenaut while the paella simmered. When the pan was ceremoniously paraded from grill to table, we opened a bottle of the richly colored, dry 2010 Reflection Pinot Noir Rosé from Portland's own Boedecker Cellars followed by a 2001 Luis Cañas Rioja from my brother's wine shop, Vino.

With a simply dressed salad of garden greens, no matter how you say it, I call that a successful evening.

Paella on the Grill

This is a recipe I've written about previously but have modified over the years. It calls for Spanish chorizo and mussels, but you should feel free to substitute your own favorite seafood…just don’t use Mexican chorizo, an entirely different kind of sausage. It also works well on the stovetop cooked in a paella pan or a large skillet.

1/8 tsp. saffron
1/2 c. dry white wine
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red, yellow, or green bell pepper or combination, chopped
2 lbs. chicken thighs, chopped in 1-inch pieces
8 oz. Spanish chorizo, sliced into 1/8" slices
4 c. arborio or bomba rice2 Tbsp. smoked Spanish paprika (called pimenton)
1/2 c. green olives, cut into thirds (we use Spanish anchovy-stuffed olives)
1/2 lb. large frozen shrimp, thawed and tails removed

6-8 c. chicken or fish stock
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lb. mussels or steamer clams

Place saffron in small bowl. Pour wine on top and allow to infuse at least 10 minutes while prepping other ingredients.

Build fire in barbecue grill. Once coals are white hot, spread coals in a single layer and place paella pan on the grill about 4 inches above coals. Pour in olive oil and heat till shimmering, then add chopped onions, garlic and pepper and sauté till tender. Add chicken pieces and brown lightly, then add chorizo and sauté till warmed. Stir in smoked paprika. Add rice and stir for 2 minutes, then add saffron/wine mixture, and stock until it just covers the rice mixture. Top with shrimp and olives. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place grill cover on the barbecue and cook for approximately 20 minutes without stirring, checking occasionally to make sure rice doesn’t get too dry. Add more stock or water as needed, allowing brown crust (called socarrat in Spanish) to form on bottom and sides without burning. Before rice is completely done, add mussels or clams hinge-side down so they stand up in the pan and their juices run into the paella. Serve when shells open and meat inside is cooked, approximately 3 minutes.


Debra Daniels-Zeller said...

I've always been intrigued by this dish, but mystified as to how a vegetarian could convert this dish. Any ideas?

Kathleen Bauer said...

It would be a terrific vegetarian dish with colorful veggies from the garden…think chopped summer squash, peppers, beans…and then vegetable broth. Still use the saffron and wine, of course. It'd be great!

Susan Turner Educational Services said...

Yummz! Can't wait to try this one out!! thanks