Tag Archives: Arborio

Paella – A Dish Fit for a Summer Dinner Party

If you are looking for a centerpiece for a summer dinner party, consider a paella.  The variety of ingredients – chicken, shellfish, vegetables, chorizo – will appeal to all taste buds and will surely wow your guests.  Below is my recipe that will serve six to eight.

Ingredients:

¼ cup achiote oil (made from heating achiote seeds in olive oil until the oil turns a rich red) or extra virgin olive oil

12 chicken thighs, bone-in and skinned

3 chorizo, cut into ½ inch slices

1 jar Goya Sofrito

2½ cups Bomba rice or Arborio rice

16 ounces clam juice

48 ounces chicken broth

24 large shrimp, shelled and de-veined

18 littleneck clams (and/or 18 mussels)

6 squid bodies, sliced into rings

½ of a 10 ounce package of frozen peas, defrosted

4 peppers, sliced (use a mix of red, orange and yellow peppers)

Sea salt

Fresh ground pepper

The ideal pan to prepare paella is a paellera – a large, round pan with two handles.  The pan is also very shallow to enable the rice to cook uniformly.  If you do not have a paellera, you may use any pan that will cook the rice evenly, such as a roasting pan.

I prefer to cook paella on the grill rather than the stove as the grill will accommodate the size of the paellera.  The grill also retains the heat so that the rice forms a crunchy ring around the outer edge of the pan.

Heat the grill to medium-high.  When the grill is heated, place the paellera on the grill and pour the oil in the paellera.  Once the oil is hot, place the chicken thighs in the paellera and season with salt and pepper.  Brown the chicken on both sides.  As you are cooking the paella, rotate the paellera periodically so that the ingredients cook uniformly.

After the chicken is browned, add the chorizo and peppers and cook until the chorizo is lightly browned and the peppers soften.  Stir in the rice so that the rice is coated with the oil.  Pour in enough clam juice and chicken stock to cover the rice by about ¼ inch.  You may need to adjust the amounts of juice and stock listed above.  Stir in the sofrito.  Turn the heat to high and let cook until the liquid is almost entirely absorbed by the rice and the rice is tender.

Turn the heat down to medium and nestle the shellfish into the rice.  First add the shrimp, then the clams/mussels.  The shrimp are cooked when they are white and no longer translucent.  This will take just a few minutes.  The clams/mussels are cooked when their shells open.  Discard any clams/mussels that do not open.

While the shellfish are cooking, scatter the peas over the paella.  The rice around the perimeter of the paellera should be browning and crisping during the cooking process.  When everything is cooked, add the squid.  The squid is added at the very end as it will only take about 2 minutes to cook.  In order for squid to be tender, it must be cooked very quickly.  When the squid turns white, test it to make sure that it is cooked.  Remove the paellera from the grill and serve immediately at the table.  Enjoy!

Final Paella

Fiddleheads for Dinner

April marks the beginning of fiddlehead fern season.   This is the time of year to enjoy those lovely fern fronds before they unfurl – on your plate.   To celebrate the first sighting of fiddleheads this year (at Whole Foods), we decided to feature them with a risotto for last night’s dinner.

To prep the risotto, bring about 32 ounces of chicken stock to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Slice several cloves of garlic and cipollini onions and sauté them in extra virgin olive oil in a risotto pan. When the onions start to become translucent, stir in one cup of Arborio rice, coating the rice with the oil.

Onions cooking

Add a large ladle of stock to the rice to begin the absorption process. Keep the heat on medium low so as not to scorch the rice, and keep stirring with a large wooden spoon. Continue to add more stock ladle by ladle, and continue stirring for about 25 minutes or until the rice is not hard in the center.   In addition to the stock, add freshly squeezed lemon juice and some splashes of white wine or Prosecco for extra flavor.  When the rice is cooked, stir in half a cup of grated Parmesan cheese, turn off the heat and cover.

Risotto Cooking

To prepare the fiddleheads, thoroughly rinse and cut off the ends of the stems. Blanch the fiddleheads by placing them in boiling water for a minute and then running them under cold water. Do not sauté the fiddleheads until the risotto is almost finished as they only take a few minutes – you want them to retain their crunchiness. Sauté the fiddleheads in extra virgin olive oil for about three minutes and add some sea salt and freshly ground pepper. I also added some Piment d’Espelette for some red color and mild heat.

Fiddleheads

To serve, spoon the risotto into a pasta bowl and top with the beautiful fiddleheads and crushed red pepper. This is a light, tasty dish that is fun to prepare – consider opening a bottle of red to aid in the stirring.

Risotto