Today, I introduce what I intend toÂ be a regular spot on this blog – Spanish Cooking Saturdays. Â I do not promise that it will be a weekly spot, but it will be at least a monthly spot, possibly a little more frequently than that. I’ve got a big cookbook full of Spanish recipes, courtesy of Mario Batali, which will serve as fodder for many future blog entries.
Since I have this handy dandy new paella pan, I shall start this adventure by trying my hand at paella. Â Apparently, before actually using the paella pan, it must be properly seasoned. Â I don’t remember all the rationale as to why this needs to be done, but I think it’s got something to do with keeping the pan from rusting. Â Anyway, seasoning the pan involves wiping it down with canola oil and placing it on my stove burners until it changes from the pretty, shiny, silvery steel color to a golden brown throughout the surface of the pan, like so:
Being generally persnickety and liking for things to always be clean and new looking, this sort of distresses me. Â However, I choose to look at the seasoning of my pan as evidence that it is being put to good use, not just getting “messed up.”
And speaking of good use…
Now, Mario and Gwyneth made this on a open fire in Valencia with a well “seasoned” chef. Â Not having access to a space for an open fire in the heart of Charlotte, I asked the Beer Guy to fire up the grill for me. Â I’m not exactly sure how to go about doing that myself. Â We made a”rule” when we got married – I’m in charge of indoor cooking, he’s in charge of outdoor cooking…and he who does not cook it is in charge of cleaning it up! (That’s works out pretty well for moi as most of our meals are made indoors. 🙂 )
Making paella isn’t difficult, it just has several steps. Â The whole process took about 1 1/2 hrs, but it was well worth it in the end. Â I chose to make a seafood paella since I will likely be making this for my family at the beach next week. Â I grabbed some lobster tails, shrimp, tiger prawns and the like from the seafood department at my local Harris Teeter. Â First you throw those in the pan to brown them and establish the seafood flavored base for the dish.
Looks good enough to eat by itself, right? Â But we must press on…Remove the shellfish, add the onions, and cook until soft.
Next add pureed tomato, sweet Spanish pimentÃ³n, and saffron.
Add the Bomba rice and the stock. Â If I was super cool I would have made my own stock. Â But when there’s no time for that, store bought stock works just fine.
Cook until the rice has absorbed nearly all the liquid
Add the shellfish, any other uncooked seafood, and some peas into the mix and cook until the remainder of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is all brown and crunchy around the edges of the pan. Â Mario says to cook it until the pan starts to make a funny “crackling noise” and you are starting to worry that it’s burning.
Voila-The finished product!
(And yes, I’m aware that I used a French term to punctuate the completion of my Spanish dish, but I am unaware of the Spanish equivalent.) Â Since the paella needed to “rest” for 10 min or so before serving, there was ample time to snap some “finished product” shots.
Next up, crack open a great Spanish wine…
eat it right out of the pan (‘cuz that’s what real Spaniards do)…
and enjoy your Saturday evening!
I can think of no better way to eat in on a Saturday night, can you?