Monday, May 11, 2009

Paella Permutations

If you've seen "The Hoax" you know about Clifford Irving and his pal Richard Suskind. Long before children and marriage I lived in Paris, and, through a friend, hung out with Richard, er, Dick. According to the film he was a children's book author;according to my memories he was a professional writer. (I loved the fact that his role was portrayed by an affable Alfred Molina.) One evening he chatted about his time in Ibiza, we bought the ingredients, and he showed me how to cook paella. His version is a rather upscale chicken and rice.

Much is made of that squatty paella pan, but I work with what' s on a hand, and a skillet or saucepan that can be covered works best for me.

With meat:

Coat a pan with olive oil, sliver a couple of slices of bacon, saute on medium flame until crisp, remove. Saute 1/4 pound of Spanish chorizo (more like a hard, cured sausage) briefly.
Pan fry your favorite chicken parts, I prefer thighs, at least one per person. Brown well on each side, on medium to low heat (15-20 minutes total) remove.

Using the fat in the skillet, still on medium, brown 1 1/2 cups rice. Add half a sliced onion, two slivered garlic cloves, and saute briefly. Add three cups of chicken broth, half a cup of frozen peas, a cup of garbanzo beans (cooked, yes, cooked) , one roasted red pepper, julienned, and a pinch of saffron. Yum. Add all of the previously sauteed items. Bring to a boil. Simmer on low and cover for ten minutes.

At the ten minute mark add your rinsed and bearded shellfish(bearded means you pull off the dangly hair parts of the mussels) : a pound of mussels, a pound of manila clams. Cover and steam for another five minutes. Now add your shrimp, shelled or with shells on, and cook for another five minutes. Rice seem raw, and not enough liquid? Add a bit more water and keep covered. Full disclosure: a truly authentic version has crusty rice at the bottom, crisp from the cooking. I've never been able to achieve that.

Serve with a green salad, or a delectable tomato salad.
Bring out your aioli, (gosh, mine completely flopped last time) and your favorite rose.

Forget about the chicken, bacon and chorizo. Gee, that was easy.


  1. Yummy. My husband makes an amazing Arroz con Pollo that he got from his Argentine relatives. This reminds me of it.

  2. I traveled to Spain all by myself when I was 49 because I had vowed years before that I would not let my 50th birthday pass without having seen that country.

    My research prior to the trip taught me that paella was invented in Valencia.

    So I went to Valencia, found an outdoor restaurant right on the Mediterranean and dined on the most sumptuous paella I ever had, before or after.

    It remains one of my favorite memories.

  3. Pio: Sounds sublime!
    M: hmm, I need the details--

  4. Great story. Gee, I love paella, but I'm a complete chicken about attempting it at home.

    I once got so far as to buy some saffron from Penzey's, but I just cleaned out my spice cabinet and discovered that pricy stuff doesn't last forever.

  5. >> "much is made of the ... paella pan, but I work with what's on hand ..."
    >> "full disclosure:... crusty rice at the bottom... I've never been able to achieve that."

    Hmmm. Let's see if we can figure out why you don't get a crusty bottom, shall we?

  6. A: Funny thing, up until your comment I've never put the two together. Have you achieved that crusty crispy rice?