Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Beloved Paella
photo by Pat Rivera
Don't ask why. As far as I know, I don't have an ounce or Spanish or Catalan blood in me. I've never been to Spain. I long for a culinary pilgrimage. While I have six paella pans (paelleras), and cook it over an open fire when possible, I don't pretend to be an expert. I have been host to a man from Valencia. What did I choose to make? Paella. Brave? Maybe. Here's what I know:
  • Paella's native land is found on Spain's eastern cost officially designated as País Valencia. Picture rice fields, lagoons, sunshine, boats alive with seafood.
  • We have the Moors to thank for the  key ingredients found in paella: rice and saffron.  
  • Paella is most often prepared by men, outside, over an open fire.

  • Valencians use the term paella for all pans. The pan used to make the dish is called a paellera.
  • There is not ONE paella. Ingredients vary. It's the technique, the passion, the rice.
  • While a mixed paella is what many Americans think of with chicken, seafood, sausage and vegetables; the most honorable paella is made with good rice and just the best special ingredients: meat, fish, OR vegetables.
  • Now for my paella, which varies of course. The basics are: short grain rice, saffron, stock, smoked Spanish paprika and I almost always include Spanish cured Chorizo sausage. 
  • The perfect rice? Bomba or Calasparra Rice or Arborio.
  •  The prize winning paella will produce a crisp layer of rice on the bottom of the paellera called a socarrat. Preparing the paella over an open fire will encourage the socarrat. Stove top, tricky.
  • Paella is traditionally eaten from the paellera. But don't touch "grandfather's portion." 
  • Paella is an event, a celebration, a gesture. Paella is the essence of "home" even if it is prepared daily.
photo by Pat Rivera

Arroz a la Marinera (recipe below)

No paellera? No problem.
Join us for a paella class and feed at Kristos Olive Oil in Olde Town Arvada on June 4th at 6:30. Visit the store or call to sign up.
We'll build two paellas and have some tapas while we cook.
5769 Olde Wadsworth, Arvada
720 689 2323
IN the mean time, here's a recipe for paella. One paella. One of many.
Rice with Seafood
Serves 6
3 dozen mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 cup water
1 cup white wine
6 cups clam juice or fish stock, heated
pinch of saffron
3/4 pounds monkfish, skin removed
1 pound squid, cleaned and diced
Shrimp in their shells
8 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
4 oz. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 medium tomato, or one 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained
3 cups short-grain rice
  • Place the mussels in a wok, or large pot with water and wine. Cover and bring to a boil. Remove from heat as soon as the mussels open. Remove mussels from pot and pour water/wine broth into warm stock. Add saffron.
  • Take the monkfish, squid, and shrimp and sprinkle with salt. Let sit at room temperature while doing the next step.
  • Mash the parsley, garlic and thyme in a mortar and pestle or in a food processor. Add the paprika and a splash of white wine to make a paste.
  • Heat some of the oil in an 18 inch paellera (or large skillet) and sauté the monkfish, squid and shrimp until heated through but not fully cooked.
  • Remove and cover.
  • Add more olive oil add sauté the onion and peppers. Cook until soft, then add the tomatoes. Add the rice. Yes, now.
  • Stir the rice to lightly toast and coat with the vegetable mixture.
  • Pour in a couple of ladles of hot stock and continue stirring.
  • Add in the mortared mixture and some more stock.
  • As the rice begins to absorb the stock, add more stock. Stir.
  • As the rice begins to absorb more stock, add more stock. Stir.
  • When the rice is beginning to soften just a bit (not even al dente yet) add the fish, squid, and shrimp back in, decoratively. Add a bit more stock if the rice is looking thirsty. Stop stirring.
  • Cover with foil and let it hang out over heat. Any leftover warm stock may be poured over the mussels sitting in that bowl.
  • When the rice has absorbed the stock and is barely al dente, add the mussels to the paella, cover once again and let sit off of the heat.  
The Menu for June 4, 2014
Potatoes fried in olive oil and topped with a sauce of garlic, paprika, mayonnaise and tomato.
Fresh, simple and delicious.
We'll create two paellas. One with seafood the other with meat; both with rice, Spanish chorizo, saffron, smoked paprika and fresh vegetables.
Fresh pears poached in sherry wine and vinegar, then seasoned with vanilla and cinnamon.
$45 per person
includes food and instruction


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