Paella on the Barbie
SoupAddict has found her favorite outdoor party dish, ever: Paella. (Pronounced “pie-AYE-ya” for those of you who, like SoupAddict, need to pronounce things correctly, even when it’s just in one’s own head. The first Harry Potter book drove SoupAddict crazy, until she jumped on the interwebs to learn the proper way to say “Hermione”.)
Paella is a Spanish dish loaded with rice, sofrito, stock, a few carefully selected spices, and whatever protein suits your whim. Chicken? Good. Clams? Good. Scallops? Good. Chorizo? Good. A one-dish meal, prepared on the grill or over an open fire. Pour some sangria, and drag your friends out of the air-conditioning to gather around as you assemble this spectacular dish.
Note to Foodies: much like Cuban sandwiches, which draws passionate debates about authentic ingredients, SoupAddict’s version of paella may not be entirely authentic, but it is entirely delicious. She nonetheless begs the pardon of paella passionates who might find offense with the ingredients called for/not called for herein. SoupAddict, for example, cannot tolerate the sight of canned or frozen peas, and so has forbidden this traditional ingredient from coming within a one mile radius of her paella. Food adversion. It happens.
SoupAddict also wants to advise you up front: prepare/measure out all of the ingredients in advance. Paella has many steps, but they’re simple if everything is ready to go. You do not want to be caught scrubbing the clams when the cooking shrimp is already turning pink. The advance prep is also why it’s such a great party dish: when it’s time to cook, you just pull everything out of the fridge and get the grill going. No cleaning chicken while your guests guzzle your booze, finger your heirloom vases and toe-tap and knee-bob in the next room.
[Note: SoupAddict tried to add more commas to that last sentence, but, thinks, there’s, enough. SoupAddict likes commas … and ellipses.]
Do not stir.
No matter how much you’re dying to.
Just don’t. Let the rice absorb the liquid undisturbed. This encourages the formation of socarrat, the toasted-almost-burned rice mentioned earlier.
So, she bought the cognac, and made a big deal that night of the whole warm, cozy atmosphere thing. And then drums rolled, and crickets stopped chirping, and people everywhere sat on the edge of their seats [did you, one night, suddenly find yourself sitting on the edge of your seat without knowing why? Well, that was probably the moment] … and SoupAddict took a sip. And put the glass down. And swallowed hard. Turned on the TV, and tried to forget such a taste ever existed in the world.
So, the Courvoisier has been relegated to cooking. Where it is absolutely fabulous in a dish like paella. Fabulous. Believe it, it’s true.
Which might actually suck a little, because now they’ll have expectations.
Paella does that.
|I’m giving approximate amounts here, based on the number of people in your party using the process above. Paella is not about exact measurements; paella is about yummy food shared with the people you love. Believe it, it’s true.
Figure on one pound of protein per person. Not that everyone will be eating one pound of meat, but you want to make sure that you have enough shrimp to go around, for when the resident shrimp hog hogs the shrimp.
Use about 1/2 cup of dried rice per person.
You might have leftovers, but that’s okay: they’re just as good the next day, and you’ll thank SoupAddict.
|•||Protein: chicken, chorizo, shrimp, clams, mussels, lobster, crab claws – use your favorites.|
|•||One onion, one garlic clove, one green bell pepper, one red bell pepper, two roasted piquillo peppers (from a jar), all chopped, for each one cup of dried rice.|
|•||Bombo or arborio rice. For bomba rice, use a 1:3 proportion of rice of to stock. For arborio, use the liquid ratio indicated on the box, substituting stock for water.|
|•||Chicken or vegetable stock (use appropriate amounts for rice preparation above)|
|•||Smoked paprika. Use one tablespoon for every one cup of dried rice.|
|•||Saffron threads. Use one pinch for every one cup of dried rice.|
|•||Salt and pepper to taste. Start with one teaspoon each for every one cup of dried rice, and go from there.|
|•||Olive oil, for cooking|
|•||Fresh lemon. One will probably do it, no matter how large the dish.|
|•||White wine or brandy. Figure about 1/4 cup per one cup of dried rice.|