For Christmas, we gave the kids a private Zoom class with our favorite local chef, Jenn Louis. She has had several restaurants here in Portland, and has several cookbooks out, too. Their choices were: handmade pasta, paella, or tamales. They felt that paella was the dish they would probably make again on their own. Good call!
Jenn even lent us paella pans for the event. So perfect! I did all the shopping; it was like making a meal kit for the kids. They’re in a Covid bubble, as are we, so we had two houses cooking together, apart.
Jenn planned the whole meal. We had some nibbles before dinner: Manchego cheese, quince paste, marcona almonds and baguette.
Salad with roasted red pepper, olives, tangerines, lemon vinaigrette (and some goat cheese left over from the dates)
Bacon wrapped dates, stuffed with goat cheese.
The kids bought these delightful Spanish wines, red and an effervescent white. They were a perfect pairing with our dinner.
Are you hungry now? Jenn has graciously allowed me to share the paella recipe, below. She also said that we could do this in a large skillet, if we didn’t have paella pans. (I’m not sure I really have room to store one, lovely as the are.)
Paella with chorizo and shellfish
1⁄4 cup [60 ml] olive oil, plus more for finishing
4 ounces [115 g] chorizo, roughly chopped
8 ounces [230 g] mixed seafood of your choice
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sweet smoked paprika
1 cup [200 g] Calasparra, Valencia, or Bomba rice (short grain, arborio works, too)
Small pinch of saffron threads (about 1⁄2 teaspoon)
2 tomatoes, cut into 6 pieces each and most seeds removed
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cups [960 ml] chicken stock or water, plus more as needed (edit: now that I’m doing this in my skillet rather than a wider, shallower paella pan, I’m going to start with 3 cups. I can always add more if the rice isn’t done enough.)
Warm the olive oil in a 13 1⁄2-inch [34-cm] paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo and cook for 2 minutes, then add the onion, garlic, and paprika. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and saffron and stir to evenly coat and toast the rice, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they become warm and begin to fall apart, about 3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Evenly distribute and flatten out the rice in the pan and then add the stock. Turn the heat to high, taste the broth, and adjust the seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then decrease the heat to a medium simmer and cook, rotating the paella pan every 2 minutes, for about 20 minutes, until the rice is plump and cooked. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper.
After 10 minutes arrange the seafood on top of the rice and continue to cook until the seafood is done. (edit: I’m adding seafood when the liquid is down to the rice level)
Keep the paella over high heat and continue to rotate the pan every 2 minutes to create an evenly crispy bottom, (known as socarrat). Add additional chicken stock or water as needed to fully cook the rice. (edit: my super conductive Cuisinart pan doesn’t need to go to high heat; I don’t want it to scorch!)
A very pretty dinner, indeed!
I love gifts that are consumable, and leave no clutter behind. This was exactly right. And we all got to hang out together on Zoom, still socially distant. I’ll be so glad when they can just come over for dinner again, but this was a great alternative. Thanks to Jenn Louis for the recipe and the class!
Jenn’s latest cookbook is The Chicken Soup Manifesto; I gave a copy to my sister Sharon last year.
She’s on a roll! (Soup photos are courtesy Sharon Hsu. And I don’t know why the first two turned sideways when I uploaded them?)
Happy new year; I hope it’s delicious!