A new tradition has been born: Paella on Christmas Eve! We hadn't made it in a very long time, and the stars were aligned just so, as we were able to find two key ingredients:
|real bomba (paella rice)!|
I didn't follow any one particular recipe, although I did lean heavily on several variations by Tyler Florence (Mmm, leaning on Tyler Florence...oh, wait! Back to cooking!), mainly this one. In addition to the chorizo, we used chicken thighs, drumsticks, and shrimp, and we intended to use mussels but ran into a little difficulty fitting everything in toward the end, so we jettisoned that idea. I don't like mussels anyhow, but Andy does, and they do really make it look nice. Ah well. Next time we won't use so much chicken. We also originally thought we'd use some littlenecks, which I don't love either. So.
Everything was going along well, until I realized that the bottom was starting to burn. The prize in a perfect paella is the soccarat, which is the brown crust of rice on the bottom. You don't stir paella rice the way you stir risotto; you try to spread it out as much as possible on the bottom of the paella pan and hope for that crust. Well, I must have had the flame up a bit too high, because the soccarat turned a little black. It wasn't horrible, but it wasn't right either. And, to top it off, some of the chicken pieces weren't competely done. So if I'd had the flame a little lower, the rice wouldn't have burned so fast and the chicken would have had time to get done. I also should have had less chicken and should have shoved it down deeper into the rice. But, frankly, the shrimp, chorizo, and rice were the highlights anyhow.
If you want to learn more about all the hows and whys of paella, start here.
So, Rachel and Gary came over with the kids. We started off with drinks and Spanish almonds, plus a yummy olive cheese puff appetizer I made (forgot to take a photo!):
1. Preheat oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. Mix together 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup butter, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon paprika, and 1 dash Worcestershire sauce until dough forms.
3. Pinch off a small ball of dough and flatten it out. Roll dough around a large pimiento-stuffed olive and place on cookie sheet. Repeat, using about 40 olives.
3. Bake for 15 minutes, rolling balls around if necessary, until golden brown.
Andy found a very nice rioja, 1999 Coto de Imaz Reserva, which was terrific with the paella.
Julie had a fever off and on yesterday, but she was OK most of the evening. She started to fade fast and went to bed at her usual 7:00. Stephanie, Hannah, Pete, and Matty had a blast. They hadn't played together for a very long time, and it was just like the old days...
...which allowed the grownup to have a completely child-free, undisturbed dinner! What a treat! We let the kids stay up until almost 9:00, which is by the far the latest they've ever gone to bed. All in all, a truly lovely evening.