It all started on our trip to Spain where we were we ate copious amounts of yummy paella, and we took a paella-making class at Vanencia Club Cocino, a cooking school in Valencia where Paella is said to be the best. When you eat a good Paella it makes you close your eyes and say "ummmmmm!" in an embarrassing manner. My favorite from our trip was actually in Granada where Chandler and I sat on the sidewalk outside of a little place on the street where he lived while studying at the university. Spain is notoriously very hot in the summer and we had walked several blocks to get there, but all the little restaurants had misters that would periodically send down glorious clouds of cooling mist. The Paella was served in a small pan that was positioned over a little flame, keeping it warm. There was nice crusting, or "socarrat", on the bottom, and the flavor was heavenly. We were also served icy cold sangria, and the combination was spectacular. I will never forget the feeling I had there, so happy to be on this adventure with Chandler, and also feeling so proud to think that he had lived on this street and studied here all by himself. I had a mom moment, I'll admit. But I digress - we are really still talking about Paella.
There is a ton of information about Paella online along with many authentic recipes - some of which do not sound appealing based on the ingredients (no thank you on the chunks of fish, no thank you on the chunks of bunny rabbit). There are also a million recipes that are entitled "Paella" but are not made in the traditional way - there should be no "popping it in the oven" at any point in time.
Our goal is to make a relatively authentic Paella using ingredients that we enjoyed eating, and making it in a relatively authentic way.
We must start with a pan large enough to serve a crowd. The pan needs to be wide and shallow, and heavy enough to prevent scorching the rice before it is cooked. Last summer I purchased a pan on Amazon, and it is currently taking up a large amount of space in my mudroom closet. So I could share info about the pan on this post I looked up the actual item on my Amazon account (wow - I have purchased a lot of stuff on Amazon in the past few months!!) and here it is:
Lodge L17SK3 Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, 17-inch
Sold by: Amazon.com LLC $81.31
Then there was the task of finding a recipe to follow. If I bake, I follow the recipe exactly as it is written because baking is a fairly scientific endeavor. When I cook I enjoy reading many recipes and then creating something using elements of each recipe. With this Paella - knowing that the ingredients would be expensive and a crowd would be observing - I really wanted to find a recipe that I could follow exactly. I searched and searched and searched, and I came across Tyler Florence's version and I think it fits our goal of yummy and fairly authentic. Here is a link to the recipe along with a video (bonus!): The Ultimate Paella
I do plan on changing a couple of things: I am not going to stir the rice into the sofrito as the recipe calls for but rather I am going to add the liquid, heat it, and then sprinkle the rice without stirring, just as we were taught. There's a reason for that and it has to do with the starches. Also the rice we will be using is going to be Arborio, or short-grained Italian rice. It's easier to find than Bomba (short-grained Spanish rice) and based on what I have read will do the trick. Read an interesting article about rice here. Also, I intend to replace some of the water with a little wine and and chicken stock.
The shopping creds go to my husband Jim. I gave him a copy of the recipe along with the shopping list so that he could refer to the recipe should he have questions about amounts, etc. He loves good food and he loves cooking so he is 100% on board with this Paella Adventure. $130 later we have everything we need including the saffron. Disclaimer: we needed olive oil (extra virgin only, ever) so that bumped up the cost a bit.
Tomorrow I have a long day at church, but when I get home the prepping will begin! I am super excited to roll up my sleeves and CREATE. Chandler and his sweet girlfriend Abby will be my sous chefs, and Chandler will also be taking some photos so hopefully my next post will be all about our successes :)
|~ a Geography Lesson, because I am a teacher, after all ~
|~ not us nor our pan, but just a cool paella photo! ~