Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Anniversary Paella

In the restaurant business, we celebrate our personal milestones on days off. Work days are for helping others celebrate their milestones. I wish it weren't so, but it is the nature of my occupation. This past Sunday was the day closest to our actual anniversary and to celebrate we invited a dozen or fourteen friends over for tapas, paella, and a case of Tempranillo, which our friends, who are not shy about wine, promptly emptied!

Paella Mixta
We really had a beautiful day and I kicked the hardwood fire off about ten minutes to four in the fire pit out on our patio. At 4:30, I started the chicken, which was followed by the chorizos, the tiny Salvadoran ones called tuzas (gophers), and my mirepoix of red peppers, onions, and hard Spanish chorizo. After this, into the pan with a spoonful of pimentón and my picada (parsley and garlic). Then a gallon of mixed stock (chicken, pork, mussel, and saffron), right up to the bottom of the handle rivets.

Once the stock came to a boil, a kilo and a half of rice went into the pan at 5:00 and was done by 5:25 or so. After 15 minutes of resting under a couple of towels, we all dug in, scraping big hunks of the crunchy socarrat off the bottom of the paellera.

Rear to Front: Chicken Wings, Salvadoran Chorizos, Red Prawns, Mussels
I thought I had lucked out and got some amazing red prawns. They sure look good, but their texture was pasty and the flavor very fishy. Not again for me. They are a new product that I was checking out for my seafood company. No bueno.

Figs, Goat Cheese, Jamón
For starters for our guests while I was out back tending the fire and the paellera, I made two tapas: these halved figs topped with local goat cheese and wrapped in ham. And I threw together some sautéed onions and red peppers from the garden with some thyme and eggs for a tortilla. Finally, as Spaniards will often do for a quick tapa, we raided the pantry for some marinated olives, peppers, and lupini.

Mixed Olives, Peppers, and Lupini

Red Pepper and Onion Tortilla
For wine, I picked a really smooth Tinta de Toro crianza from Finca Sobreño. It's a ripe Tempranillo that tastes of darker fruit, blackberries and cassis, without a lot of aggressive wood and with tame tannins. A great party wine.

A Nice Tempranillo (Tinta de Toro)

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