Wednesday, April 14, 2010
While I'm working here at GreenWood I usually have the Food Network droning in the background, and I have my favorite TV chefs but as usual I have a few improvements to add to their recipes for maximum impact. Michael Chiarello of Napa Valley's Bottega has a great way with making meals that are consistently a cut above most "quick fix" menus. Of course, it helps to be a certified master chef living in Napa Valley with a winery and general rich-California-guy estate from which to glean your morsels; here in the not-so-tony North Georgia Mountains I make do with trips to Kroger and Wally World. (I used to patronize the produce stand on the corner but a couple of years ago I bumped into the owner at the local Wally World hauling three carts full of produce, and later that day I rooted through the tomato baskets and found several with the inventory sticker still attached. Hmph, harrumph I say.) With a family of four I make judicious use of the manager's specials at Kroger and Publix for all the meats, and with some forethought we can enjoy decent seafood fairly frequently.
Many years ago I was introduced to paella by a girlfriend from Puerto Rico, and with its combination of saffron and seafood I thought it was sent from heaven above but it always seemed to be in need of a balancing kick of some kind. A couple of weeks ago I came across Chef Chiarello's recipe for an Italian paella, which substituted a few traditional Italian ingredients in place of the Spanish. Well, I'd been hankering for a different sort of seafood dish and hadn't had a paella in a few years so I decided to take part of Chiarello's recipe and modify it in a more Mexican direction. It turned out great, my kids (who have never had paella before) loved its color and variety of offerings in one dish.
Be warned, this recipe makes a huge amount of paella, so either plan a dinner party or have a way to share. A nice fruity Sangria would be a perfect compliment, as would a crisp ale or iced tea with mint.
Mister C's Mexican Paella Serves 8-10
You'll need a large skillet or heavy saucepan with a lid and a paella pan or a similar large oven-safe pot, and better go ahead and have a libation on hand because this is one meal that takes a while to prepare. Preheat the oven to 350F.
1 lb Freshwater Mussels or Small Clams
2 Boneless Chicken Breasts, chunked and browned
2-3 Links Chorizo Sausage, cooked and sliced
1 lb Jumbo or Colossal Shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb Loligo Squid, tentacles and tubes cut into pieces
2 Sweet Bell Peppers, chopped
1 Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 Large Onion, chopped
1 Large Tomatillo, chopped
3 Roma Tomatoes, diced
1 Poblano Pepper, sliced into rings
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tsp Chili Powder
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Chicken Broth
8 Cups Saffron Rice
Salt and Pepper for the broth (to taste)