Paella (Daring Cooks Challenge August 09)

paella3

This months Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Olga from Las Cosas de Olga and Olga’s Recipes . She chose delicious Spanish recipe, Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes by José Andrés.

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I made this delicious paella whilst on holiday in Alghero. Sourcing the ingredients was easy as there was an abundance of fresh sea creatures available at the daily fish market, although I chose not to use cuttlefish but opted for squid, orata & langoustine instead. Being in Italy I used Arborio rice, which was really cheap in the supermarket.

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I didn’t have a pestle & mortar in the holiday apartment so made the allioli when I came back – I’ve never had it before and was taken aback by its garlic-ness! Really delicious though everything I ate afterwards tasted strongly of garlic (but strangely I think it goes rather well with ice cream, something I must try at a later date).

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Rice with mushrooms, cuttlefish and artichokes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Equipment:
1 Chopping Board
1 knife
1 medium saucepan
1 Paella pan (30 cm/11” is enough for 4 people. If not available, you may use a simple pan that size)
1 Saucepan

Ingredients (serves 4):
4 Artichokes (you can use jarred or freezed if fresh are not available)
12 Mushrooms (button or Portobello)
1 or 2 Bay leaves (optional but highly recommended)
1 glass of white wine
2 Cuttlefish (you can use freezed cuttlefish or squid if you don’t find it fresh)
“Sofregit” (see recipe below)
300 gr (2 cups) Short grain rice (Spanish types Calasparra or Montsant are preferred, but you can choose any other short grain. This kind of rice absorbs flavor very well) – about 75 gr per person ( ½ cup per person)
Water or Fish Stock (use 1 ½ cup of liquid per ½ cup of rice)
Saffron threads (if you can’t find it or afford to buy it, you can substitute it for turmeric or yellow coloring powder)
Allioli (olive oil and garlic sauce, similar to mayonnaise sauce) – optional

Directions:
+ Cut the cuttlefish in little strips.
+ Add 1 or 2 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and put the cuttlefish in the pan.
+ If you use fresh artichokes, clean them as shown in the video in tip #7. Cut artichokes in eights.
+ Clean the mushrooms and cut them in fourths.
+ Add a bay leaf to the cuttlefish and add also the artichokes and the mushrooms.
+ Sauté until we get a golden color in the artichokes.
+ Put a touch of white wine so all the solids in the bottom of the get mixed, getting a more flavorful dish.
+ Add a couple or three tablespoons of sofregit and mix to make sure everything gets impregnated with the sofregit.
+ Add all the liquid and bring it to boil.
+ Add all the rice. Let boil for about 5 minutes in heavy heat.
+ Add some saffron thread to enrich the dish with its flavor and color. Stir a little bit so the rice and the other ingredients get the entire flavor. If you’re using turmeric or yellow coloring, use only 1/4 teaspoon.
+ Turn to low heat and boil for another 8 minutes (or until rice is a little softer than “al dente”)
+ Put the pan away from heat and let the rice stand a couple of minutes.

Sofregit (a well cooked and fragrant sauce made of olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and onions, and may at times
different vegetables such as peppers or mushrooms)-
Cooking time: aprox. 1 hour
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
5 big red ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 small onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
4 or 5 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup of button or Portobello mushrooms, chopped (optional)
1 Bay leaf
Salt
Touch of ground cumin
Touch of dried oregano
Directions:
+ Put all the ingredients together in a frying pan and sauté slowly until all vegetables are soft.
+ Taste and salt if necessary (maybe it’s not!)

Allioli is the optional part of the recipe. You must choose one of the two recipes given, even though I highly recommend you to try traditional one. Allioli is served together with the rice and it gives a very nice taste
Allioli (Traditional recipe)
Cooking time: 20 min aprox.
Ingredients:
4 garlic cloves, peeled
Pinch of salt
Fresh lemon juice (some drops)
Extra-virgin olive oil (Spanish preferred but not essential)

Directions:
+ Place the garlic in a mortar along with the salt.
+ Using a pestle, smash the garlic cloves to a smooth paste. (The salt stops the garlic from slipping at the bottom of the mortar as you pound it down.)
+ Add the lemon juice to the garlic.
+ Drop by drop; pour the olive oil into the mortar slowly as you continue to crush the paste with your pestle.
+ Keep turning your pestle in a slow, continuous circular motion in the mortar. The drip needs to be slow and steady. Make sure the paste soaks up the olive oil as you go.
+ Keep adding the oil, drop by drop, until you have the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise. If your allioli gets too dense, add water to thin it out. This takes time—around 20 minutes of slow motion around the mortar—to create a dense, rich sauce.

José’s tips for traditional recipe: It’s hard to think that, when you start crushing the garlic, it will ever turn into something as dense and smooth as allioli. But don’t give up. It’s worth the extra time and effort to see the oil and garlic come together before your eyes. Just make sure you’re adding the olive oil slowly, drop by drop. Keep moving the pestle around the mortar in a circular motion and keep dreaming of the thick, creamy sauce at the end of it all.

Olga’s Tips:
(1) In Spain, rice is not stired as often as it is when cooking Italian risotto. You must stir it once or twice maximum. This tip is valid for all Spanish rice dishes like paella, arròs negre, arròs a banda…
(2) When cooking the alternative style you can change the cuttlefish or squid for diced potato.
(3) If you can’t find cuttlefish or squid, or you’re not able to eat them because of allergies, you can try to substitute them for chicken or vegetables at your choice.
(4) Sofregit can be done in advance. You can keep it in the fridge or even freeze it.

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4 responses to “Paella (Daring Cooks Challenge August 09)

  1. Love the pictures and you are so lucky to have such wonderful seafood available. Your allioli looks great also. Bravo on an excellent result. Cheers from Audax in Australia

  2. This really brings back happy memories of our lovely holiday in Alghero. Going to the fish market in the morning and selecting from the myriad marine specimens on offer was a delight. You really created a magical and tasty paella. The allioli was very good as well.

  3. Wow, great job doing this while on your holiday! I love the picture from the market with all the fresh seafood. Your dish looks so yummy, well done!

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