Paella (Saffron Rice with Chicken and Seafood)

>> Friday, December 12, 2014



Paella (Saffron Rice with Chicken and Seafood)


Joe and I have talked about making this signature dish from Spain for a long time, but paella always seemed so daunting. I mean, the list of ingredients is huge, and the explanations for preparing all the seafood seemed like too much bother. And then there's the special paella pan, a wide shallow skillet that traditionally Spaniards used over an open fire.

Our Spain/Portugal cookbook has two pages of directions for this recipe, but it also told us we were overthinking the whole dish. At its heart, the recipe for paella is basically a rice stew with seafood, vegetables, and meat, and cooks probably threw in whatever they had at home or whatever was fresh or on sale. The cookbook has a photo of a family cooking this over a little bonfire in a park, and then eating it straight out of the pan.

So here's our recipe. I'm not going to get all Julia Child on you and describe how to cook a live lobster or scrub the beards off mussels. Choose the things you like or look good at the store, then be sure to savor each one of the flavors and scents as you cook the stew - it really is an experience! Next time you make it, the mix will probably be completely different.

P.S. This makes a big pot of paella. It's perfect for a bunch of friends. If you get each of them to chop one ingredient, it will all come together quickly.

Ingredients

2 lbs meat: cut-up chicken pieces, serrano ham, hard garlicky sausage such as andouille, salami or Spanish chorizo, bacon, boneless pork

2 lbs. seafood: raw shrimp, lobster, clams, mussels, snails, crawfish, calamari, crab claws, and cubes of firm-fleshed fish

4 cups vegetables: peas, sweet pepper strips, hot peppers, garlic, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, and green beans

1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 tsp ground saffron or turmeric
1 tbsp hot paprika
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 bay leaves, crumbled
6 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups short-grain Spanish rice
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

In a big, shallow pan, brown the fresh meat in half the oil, then set aside on a warm platter. Saute the vegetables in the remaining oil. Prepare the shellfish as needed, then add to the sauteing vegetables. Cook 3 minutes, then remove all to the platter with the chicken; keep warm.

Heat the broth with the wine, saffron and paprika. Bring to a boil, then keep it hot until ready to use. Heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Saute the rice with the remainder of the oil so that it's coated and slightly browned. Pour in the broth, bay leaves, and parsley. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat, then add the vegetables, meat, and seafood, pressing the large pieces into the rice.

Place the skillet in a 325 degree oven, uncovered, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes or so, until the rice absorbs all the liquid and is fluffy and tender. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the rice before serving.

Serves 6-8.

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Cranberry-Bourbon Glazed Ham

>> Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Cranberry Bourbon Glazed Ham


This recipe came about accidentally, when an afternoon of cooking with friends turned a little boozy and silly. What was left was a jar of bourbon-soaked cranberries and some tamales that went terribly wrong.

Luckily we found a way to use both the tamales and the leftover cranberries, which had become little red booze bombs. If you want a more authentic moonshiner taste, use some kind of real moonshine and make sure you add dark molasses to the glaze. It magnifies the sweet smokiness of the ham like you wouldn't believe.

Note: start your cranberries marinating in bourbon a week ahead if you can. If not, just whip it all up together and let the oven sort it out.

Ingredients

1 cup of your favorite bourbon
2/3 cup fresh cranberries
1 – 12-16 lb. bone-in ham
¼ cup honey
¼ cup molasses (or dark brown sugar dissolved in a little very hot water)
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp dry mustard


Instructions

Soak the cranberries in the bourbon in a jar in the refrigerator for several days to one week.

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a blender puree the cranberries with a little of the bourbon until they are all pureed. Whisk together the bourbon, pureed cranberries, honey, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and black pepper.

Remove any skin from the ham and score the fat with ½” deep cuts about 1” apart. Put the ham, cut side down, in a large roasting pan with 2 cups of water in the bottom. I like to put it on a low rack in the roaster. Baste about ¼ of the glaze on the ham and bake with no lid.

About every 30 minutes baste the ham with the liquid and drippings in the pan, and then baste with more of the glaze. Make a foil tent over the ham if it begins to brown too quickly.

Bake for about 2 to 2 ½ hours until it reaches a temperature of 155° with a meat thermometer in the meaty part of the ham, not near the bone. Remove and let rest 15 minutes before carving and serving. Save the pan drippings and mix with the ham bone and vegetable scraps to make a delicious ham stock for soups or other recipes.

Serves about 8 hungry people.

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Minnesota Cream of Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

>> Friday, December 5, 2014



Minnesota Cream of Turkey & Wild Rice Soup


I think this is one of the best ways we've ever used up leftover Thanksgiving turkey. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a fan of moist white meat on soft white bread, mayo, and a little lettuce for some color. Joe's not giving up his Moist-Maker Thanksgiving sandwich, in which there's an extra piece of bread in the middle soaked in gravy. But this. Oh, I like this a lot.


Minnesota Cream of Turkey & Wild Rice Soup


This recipe started out as a classic Minnesota turkey & wild rice soup from my niece Jackie in Minnesota. That state is the biggest producer of both turkeys and wild rice, which has to be harvested by hand. In Minnesota, Native Americans harvest the rice, and it doesn't sound easy.

Along the research path Joe and I also stopped for a discussion on the brilliant Campbell's Soup Company campaign in the 60s and 70s, where they promoted recipes using their cream soup. Who doesn't remember a casserole or hot dish* that used cream of mushroom soup? The funny thing is, Jackie's husband is in charge of the Progresso Soup line. Maybe someday they'll trademark her recipe.

Ingredients

1 tbsp oil
1 large onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 peeled carrots, diced
3 cups cooked turkey, diced
4 cups chicken, turkey, or vegetable broth
2 cans cream of chicken soup (we used the low-sodium, low fat kind)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
10 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed (we used the reduced-fat kind)
1 cup cooked wild rice (or more, depending on your taste)

Instructions

Saute the vegetables in the oil until tender. Pour in the broth. Stir in the turkey, wild rice, and soup. Slowly stir in the cheese until melted, and heat until thick and bubbly.

Serves 4-6.

* Click here to learn more about Midwestern food and cream soups - interesting!

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