18 September 2016

Food Lab 36: Paella

Chef Spouse is not a huge shellfish fan (other than shrimp), so with him out of town, we decided that it was the perfect time to play with paella. Fortunately, Die K√ľnstlerwranglerin and Eggman (and their offspring) were available to join us.

We decided to lab stovetop versus Green Egg (since Eggman was there). We realized that in order to lab this properly, we should use the exact same recipe for the two methods, so we were truly comparing the method rather than introducing ingredient variables.

We went with:

1/4 c olive oil

1 lb. marinated boneless chicken thighs, chunk cut about 1-2” in size, marinated in 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika, 1 tsp. paprika, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced
½ green pepper, diced
1 ancho pepper, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced

 7 oz. Spanish chorizo, sliced into ½ moons

1 c. bomba rice
1 c. arborio rice (we ran out of bomba rice)

4 c. poultry stock (1/3 duck, 2/3 chicken)
1 hearty pinch of saffron
1 bay leaf

1/2 bunch parsley

1/2 bag of mussels
16 little neck clams
1/2 lb. medium shrimp (about 16)

Nice mise!
Saute the chicken in the olive oil until it starts to brown and give you a little fond. Then add the veg and saute until the onion gets translucent. Add the chorizo and saute until it is giving up its fat. Add the rice and saute until it's fully coated with the fat, then start adding the stock. It's not risotto - you're not trying to have the rice absorb all the liquid before you put the next bit in, but you don't want your pot to overflow either.

As you start getting close to the rice being done and the stock all being absorbed, add the parsley and the shellfish. You'll want to position the mussels and clams so that the side that opens is facing down into the rice, with the hinge facing up, so that as they start to cook/open, all that goodness drops into the rice. Cook until shellfish are done (we put them all in at the same time, but the shrimp should've been put in AFTER the clams and mussels, so they got a little over cooked).

The stovetop (in cast iron, natch) started faster - the Egg was still warming up - but the Egg finished faster. I'm guessing that's because once the Egg is up to temperature, you can't really decrease it.

The stovetop paella was clearly creamier, and the Grenn Egg paella was notably smokey and crunchy. Eventually, though, we reached the caramelized sofrito that is the epitome of paella. The stovetop’s sofrito was superior, being a bit thicker and more even. But we wouldn't have kicked either to the curb for eating crackers in bed, as the saying goes.

Mad Kitchen Scientist had procured some Savory and James amontillado sherry for us, that went admirably with both versions.

Chef Spouse totally missed out.