Paella Paella

I never had so much fun in my own backyard as I did with the August 2011 edition of The Fearless Cooking Club. We celebrated the Spanish culture and the heat of the summer by making paella.

Before diving into the education of paella, we made sangria, also a Spanish party ingredient.

So the Fearless Cooks watched the Alton Brown video on how to make Paella from his Food Network show Good Eats. I am a big fan of Alton Brown as he mixes chemistry with how-to humor.  Here he is viewing saffron under the microscope.

To summarize, paella in the Spanish culture, is the pan and the dish. It comes from the Roman and Moor influences.  Paella is an outdoor cooking event perfect for a sunny summer day.

My husband also watched the video and decided that our fire pit would be the perfect place to make the paella.

 The pan is flat and is ideally cooked over charcoal grill. The rice is a shorter grain. I discovered on the video that the Bomba rice I chose is a “boutique” Spanish variety of rice.

Paella is a great group event to watch step by step with each ingredient added to the pan. First, we heat the olive oil in the pan.

Next, we added boneless chicken thighs browning 5 minutes on each side.

After each ingredient is cooked in the center of the pan, it gets pushed to the outer edges.

 Breaking from Alton’s recipe, we added fresh chorizo, then peppers with garlic. We skipped the green beans and added chopped onions instead; then the crushed tomatoes.

The star of the dish, of course, is the rice, added in the center and cooked in the juices for 2-3 minutes then evenly distributed throughout the pan.

Hot chicken broth is added directly onto the rice, using a tea kettle. Every 10 minutes, we checked the rice and added more broth, keeping the rice moist.

We had shrimp for the paella, but grilled it separately and not until the paella was near completion.

The dish was done when the rice was cooked through by tasting the rice, which took about 30 minutes.

The guys thought the paella was great. It felt a little like camping.

The Fearless Cooks toasted to our accomplishment.

For dessert we had a fruit tart and Char made flan, a Tyler Florence recipe.  We also celebrated my birthday which made the day all the sweeter.

The inspiration for making a Spanish dish came from my daughter, who is currently in Spain with her classmates and youth from all over the world. They are gathering in Madrid this next week to celebrate their faith at World Youth Day. Salud!