Friday, June 19, 2009

How To Make Paella

Let's get right to it. Right here, right now, I proclaim this summer to be the summer of paella. There's lots of great things about summer - like everything - but just imagine how amazing it's going to be sitting outside with friends, with a crisp cocktail or cold beer in your hand and a big bowl of perfectly-spiced paella topped with sausage, chicken or fresh seafood.

Last night, a long-time friend visiting from Montreal came over for dinner. Greg and I have a standing tradition of making dinner together and it usually involves something time-consuming like making fresh pasta or spring rolls for a large group a friends. So, in keeping with tradition (but being a little easy on ourselves) we tried our hands at some Spanish cuisine and made paella. It was the first time for both of us, and it was delicious.

Paella is a rice dish originating from Valencia, located on the east Mediterranean coast of Spain. For lunch, farmhands would make a fire in fields and simmered the local short grained rice in a flat pan. They would add whatever local vegetables were at hand and enhance with fish and seafood, or perhaps a stray chicken or a rabbit caught in the fields.

Paella is meant to be simple to make. Use quality ingredients for flavour and you can't go wrong- good quality stock, fresh spices and herbs, saffron, and spanish arborio rice.

Paella (serves 4-6)
adapted from Rebar: Modern Food CookBook

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 tablespoons oregano
1 large red pepper, chopped
1 large yellow pepper, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, ripe, chopped
1 1/4 cups arborio rice
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup white wine
3 strands saffron
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and sliced into 1 inch lengths
fresh ground pepper
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped
1 bunch scallion, minced
hot turkey sausage, sliced into 1 inch lenths

In a large, deep cast iron skillet, heat olive oil and saute onion until translucent. Add garlic, chile flakes, 1 tsp salt, and saute until the garlic and onions are soft. Add the remaining salt, spices, herbs, peppers, and tomatoes and simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Stir in the rice to coat.

Heat the stock and wine, add saffron and then pour it into the pan. Cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pan fry the sausages, slice and set aside. Steam or blanch the beans until tender and set aside.

Once the the rice is cooked and tender, stir the green beans and sausage into the paella. Season with cracked pepper, parsley and minced scallions. Serve up and enjoy.

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