Presenting Paella…Perfectly

Celebrating Paella.
The classic Spanish ragout is such a popular delight–especially with proper presentation–tableside.  Seasonal variations too.
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Spring Vegetable Paella
2 large fresh fennel bulbs–trimmed, each cut into 8 wedges–2 tablespoons chopped fronds reserved
12 ounces baby carrots (about 4 bunches) trimmed, peeled
8 ounces turnips, peeled, cut into 3/4-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
8 ounces red-skinned new potatoes, halved
1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
1 onion, chopped
1 14-ounce can vegetable broth
2 1/4 cups arborio rice or medium-grain rice
4 plum tomatoes, chopped– juices reserved
2 cups water
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 pound asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup drained canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss fennel bulbs, carrots, turnips, potatoes, and 1/4 cup oil in large bowl. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Transfer to large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender and brown around edges, about 1 hour. Finely mince 1/4 cup parsley and garlic together. Transfer to small bowl. Stir in paprika, saffron and 1 teaspoon salt. Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes; sauté 2 minutes. Add rice and parsley mixture; stir 2 minutes. Stir in broth, water, and wine–bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Stir in asparagus, garbanzo beans, and roasted vegetables. Increase heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring often, about 20 minutes. Season paella with salt and pepper. Transfer to large platter. Sprinkle with fennel fronds and remaining parsley.
A classic.  Artisanal depends on creativity.
Seafood Paella
4 cleaned small squid, bodies sliced into 1/4-inch-wide rings, tentacles left whole
2 cups medium-grain Spanish paella rice or risotto rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
12 jumbo shrimp in their shells
16 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups fish or chicken stock–add more as needed
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste or finely chopped
2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon pimentón dulce (or sweet paprika)
A good pinch of saffron threads
Salt to taste
Fry the onion in the oil in a 16-inch paella pan until soft, stirring often. Stir in the garlic, and before it begins to color, add the tomatoes. Add the sugar, salt to taste, pimentón
(or paprika) and saffron, stir well, and cook until the tomatoes are reduced to a sauce and the oil is sizzling. Add the squid and cook, stirring, for a minute or so. Add the rice and stir well until all the grains are coated. Bring the stock and wine to a boil in a saucepan. Pour over the rice, bring to a boil, and add salt to taste
( if the broth tastes a bit salty, it will not be salty when it is absorbed by the rice).
Stir well and spread the rice out evenly in the pan (do not stir again). Cook the rice over low heat for 18 to 20 minutes, moving the pan around and rotating it so that the rice cooks evenly. Lay the shrimp on top after 10 minutes and turn them when they have become pink on the first side.
Add a little more hot stock toward the end if the rice seems too dry. When the rice is done, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a large piece of foil. Steam the mussels with a spalsh of water in a pan with a tight-fitting lid. Once opened—they are cooked.  Dispose of any shells not opened.  Arrange the mussels atop the paella for presentation.
Add 4 quartered small artichoke hearts or bottoms, fresh or defrosted frozen, a good handful of peas, green beans or broad beans cut into short lengths, or roasted red peppers, cut into strips, with the rice.
To use lobster, ask the fishmonger to cut a live lobster into pieces. Or boil it whole and cut it up.  Excellent for presentation.
…and this unique rendition.  Also ideal for small plate offerings.
Paella Couscous
For the salad:
1/2 lb Spanish chorizo cut into 1/4-inch dice
3/4 lb sea scallops,  halved crosswise (quartered if large)
3/4 lb medium shrimp in shell–peeled and deveined
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 (10-oz) box couscous (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 large red bell pepper, finely diced
1 cup coarsely chopped drained pimiento-stuffed green olives (5 oz)
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
For the dressing:
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
Accompaniment: lemon wedges
Make salad:
Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté chorizo and shallot, stirring, until chorizo is golden brown on edges, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté, stirring, 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl, scraping out skillet with a rubber spatula. Bring broth and wine to a boil in a 2 1/2-quart saucepan and cook shrimp, covered, until just cooked through, about 45 seconds. Transfer shrimp with a slotted spoon to a small bowl. Bring liquid in saucepan back to a boil and cook scallops, covered, until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer scallops with slotted spoon to bowl with shrimp and pour any liquid accumulated in bowl back into pan. Add lemon juice to seafood, then add salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Put couscous in a metal bowl. Reserve 1 3/4 cups cooking liquid in saucepan and discard remainder. Add saffron and bring liquid to a boil and pour over couscous. Let stand, covered tightly with plastic wrap, 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork and add to chorizo. Stir in peas, bell pepper, olives, and seafood and toss to combine.
Make dressing:
Blend lemon juice, oil, garlic, salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a blender until smooth and pour over seafood salad, tossing to combine well. Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature to allow couscous to absorb dressing.
Stir in parsley and season salad with salt and pepper.
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This entry was posted in entree, menus, National Food Holiday, presentation, recipes, seafood, supper and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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