Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ben Cooks Paella

Ben got the latest issue of his "stag mag" (Men's Journal) in the mail the other day.  One of the usual features of the magazine is cooking for guys: how to fix a steak, grilling, etc.  This month the recipe was paella.  Ben loves paella, a yummy Spanish rice dish, and announced that HE was going to make it for our dinner last night!  Before looking at the recipe, I jumped at the chance to just lounge around on the couch while he was busy in the kitchen making something delicious!  
Then, I looked at the recipe.  It was titled "Spanish for Beginners".  If this is a beginner's recipe, I can't imagine what "stag mag" considers advanced!  There are a LOT of ingredients that all need to be prepped in some way, there are a LOT of steps, and it takes a LOT of time!  PLUS, the ingredients are rather pricey.  PLUS, I could tell by reading the recipe, which was to make six servings, that there was no way ALL the ingredients would fit in the pan specified, although I managed to convince Ben to do 1/2 the actual recipe since there would be just the two of us eating anyway.  
So, what I'm telling you is, I'm not sure you'll want to try this recipe because it's neither quick, easy, or inexpensive, but it WAS delicious!
I decided that in order to not be eating at midnight, it would be necessary for me to do the shopping and all the prep work.  That way, Ben could just do the actual cooking-- like on a cooking show!  It took me over an hour to just prep all the ingredients (chop, clean, measure out, grind-- yes, even that!), but it was kind of fun actually, getting everything organized and ready.
Ben did the cooking, I watched while enjoying a glass of wine, and the dish turned out beautiful and scrumptious!  Maybe this is a good "date night" activity because it's definitely a project for two.  Hey, maybe THAT'S what the "stag mag" staff had in mind anyway? :)

Start about 2.5 hours before you want to eat-- no kidding!

Paella (serves 3)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch wide strips
1 mild chile (I used a jalapeno without the veins or seeds)
3 chicken thighs 
4 oz. chorizo sausage, removed from the casing
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
1 cup canned, diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
15 threads saffron (yes, it actually said this-- just use a medium sized pinch of threads)
1.5 tsp. smoked paprika
4 littleneck or 2 cherrystone clams
1 cup short grain white rice
6 large shrimp, cleaned and deveined, but with the heads still on (if possible-- or not, if you don't like that sort of thing)
4 oz. cod, cut into chunks
4 mussels
4 oz. green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup canned chickpeas
1 lemon cut into wedges
2 Tbl. chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet with 2-inch high sides.  Add the red bell pepper and chile and saute until browned over medium heat.  Season with salt and remove the bell pepper.
Next, brown the chicken on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Add the chorizo and brown it, crumbling it up as it cooks.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent.
Add the tomatoes and cook about 10 minutes.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Grind the saffron threads and smoked paprika together and stir them into the sauce.  I just pounded them together with the bottom of a wooden spoon handle, but if you have a mortar and pestle, you should use that!
Add the clams.  Remove them as they open, about 10 minutes.
Pour the rice into the pan in an even layer, pushing things around so the rice is at the bottom of the pan.
Nestle the shrimp, fish, mussels, green beans, and chickpeas into the rice.  Bring everything to a simmer.
Turn the shrimp and fish over if necessary to cook evenly.  Add the clams and bell peppers back to the pan along with the lemon wedges and parsley.
Allow everything to simmer for 30 minutes.  Add water if it seems to be getting too dry.
Let stand for 5 minutes and serve!  Whew!

Gathering together all the prepped ingredients!