Hello my Foodie Friends!
This time of year brings many family reunions, friendship gatherings, and special events that include great food and fun times. The holiday season is celebrated in myriad ways around the world. Every family has their own traditions that are rooted in cultural customs that go back for many generations. However, there is one similarity with these traditions that spans across the globe – food. Different cultures celebrate their holidays in different ways but cooking and enjoying special foods and drinks is a tradition that transcends throughout the world and all religions.
Paella is one of our family’s favorite dishes and is the iconic rice dish of Spain. Cooked with care, but not requiring the fussy attention of a risotto, it's the perfect way to cap off a happy holiday celebration. The dish has the further advantage of customization and built-in
appropriateness for a couple of different special diets -- it naturally has no gluten and no dairy. Vegetarians may forgo the typical use of Spanish sausage and chicken, using a vegetable stock to cook the rice. Those that love seafood can find plenty to love going all
seafood with a seafood stock to complement the required rice, saffron, tomatoes and olive oil.
Paella is a perfect party dish because it’s a one-pot meal, and because it feeds all size crowds. Paella is a rice dish from Spain that has become very popular and is known around the world. It originated in the fields of a region called Valencia in Eastern Spain. Paella is meant to show off the rice itself and to highlight a few special ingredients. These can be vegetables, fish, shellfish, or meat including sausage in seafood paella and you may also find chicken in it. Do not forget the saffron -- it is the essential spice of the dish.
If you are not sure what dish to serve for your holiday meal; consider Paella. At Compliments to the Chef; Your neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery Store, located at 33 Railroad Place, we sell Paella pans and other cooking tools to help you with your holiday creations. During the holiday season, the frantic pace of work and school, life slows temporarily, and we settle into the celebrations of the season. We toast the successes we’ve had in the preceding months; reflect on the life we’ve lived and rejoice with our loved ones. Create your
holiday traditions. Stop by for the holiday supplies you need to eat, drink and be merry with family and friends. Remember my Foodie Friends: “Life Happens in the Kitchen”.
Happy Holidays and take care,
John and Paula.
Here is an outstanding recipe for your holiday Paella
Paella with Chicken, Sausage and Mussels
• 1 large link of fresh Spanish chorizo or other spicy, smoky sausage you really like
• 1-pound mixed chicken pieces on the bone
• 1 small red onion, julienned
• 6 cloves of garlic, sliced
• 8 ounces canned tomato
• Saffron -- a nice three finger pinch
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 3/4 cup Spanish paella rice or similar short gain white rice (Bomba)
• Salt to taste
• 11/2 quarts. chicken stock
• 1/2-pound mussels, cleaned and debearded
• 1 Fresno chili, minced
• Flat leaf parsley to taste, chopped
• Lemon wedges for serving
• Over a medium high flame, heat in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the paella pan. Once the oil has reached its smoking point add in the chicken and sausage, turning every now and then to achieve a nice sear on each side. Add in the onions and garlic, keeping an eye on the heat, since you don't want them to burn. But too low a heat and it will go limp and sad. Once the onions have caramelized nicely, add in the rice. Continue to stir, allowing the rice to toast to a nice golden brown. In goes the tomatoes (squeeze them through your fingers into the pan to aid in the breaking up) and add the saffron.
• Turn up the heat a bit and let it all reduce to a thick consistency. This is when you hit the rice with a liberal splash of wine, being careful of any possible flare-ups. Give the pan a little shake to even out the distribution of rice, this will be the last real movement of the rice. Let it be still to develop the coveted socarrat for the duration of the cooking.
• Ladle stock around the outer edge of the pan until the liquid level is just that of the rice. Reduce the heat to achieve a slow bubbling on the pan and let the magic unfold.
• You may have to add a bit more stock from time to time. If you do, use that moment to taste for seasoning, and if it is needed, the salt will be better distributed if it is introduced with a flush of liquid.
• When the rice is just al dente and the liquid has just about been evaporated and absorbed, it is time to add the mussels. Arrange them standing on their hinges just set in the rice. Ensuring that there is a touch of liquid left to steam open the mussels will be very helpful for having them cook and open in a timely manner. Once they all pop open it is pretty much time to eat.
• Pull the paella off the heat, top with chopped parsley, Fresno chili, and a generous drizzle of great olive oil.
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