Father’s Day Paella

Father's Day PaellaGrowing up, my best friend’s father regularly complimented me for being a lateral thinker. What does that have to do with Paella and Father’s Day you might ask? Well, here goes…

My husband plays Bluegrass Mandolin. My 6 year old Daughter is starting to play Bluegrass fiddle. (The boys tried the fiddle but would rather play baseball.) Every year for the last 7 years we head up to the Father’s Day Bluegrass festival in Grass Valley. This year, like the past few years, we are camping at the festival fairgrounds.

That got me thinking about our most recent camping trip last July in Yosemite with a large group of our friends and their families. I was in charge of feeding 15 people 3 meals a day for 3 days and since I have a self-imposed reputation to uphold it couldn’t just be the usual hot dogs and beans. What is fabulous, that can feed a lot of people, and reasonably easy to cook over and open fire?

Paella! (’cause isn’t that the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about campsite food? Some say I’ve got issues.) It is the perfect dish when you consider that traditional Paella is generally prepared outdoors. It was tasty and filling and the perfect thing to eat after a day of hiking. That memory had me pulling out my giant pan over the weekend to make one of my husband’s favorite Paellas…which got me thinking about Father’s Day this coming weekend…which reminded me that I need to find the tent… 

Father’s Day Paella with Chorizo and Olives
Paella! Spectacular Rice Dishes from Spain
by Penelope Casas

Chorizo, the tasty Spanish sausage seasoned with garlic and paprika, usually plays a minor role in paella, but here it is the star. In supporting roles are capers, cured ham, and olives–both green and black–all contributing to the robust flavor of the rice. Snap peas or snow peas are a nice mellow contrast.

This recipe is based on one from the Clarisa nuns of the Santa Clara convent in Briviesca, province of Burgos, in the heart of Castile, which has no access to the sea. It is little wonder that this version of paella relies strictly on products of the land.

Serves 6 to 8

4 tablespoon coarsely chopped Spanish green olives
4 tablespoons coarsely chopped cured black olives (not California olives)
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups chicken broth, canned or homemade, or a mixture of chicken and beef broth
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron thread
8 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound chorizo, preferably sweet, skinned & cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 pound Spanish serrano or prosciutto cut into 1/4-inch slices and then diced
4 tablespoons minced parsley
3 cups Arborio or short-grain rice
Kosher or sea salt
2 dozen snap peas or snow peas

Place the green and black olives in a small saucepan with the wine and bring to a boil. Simmer 5 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Combine the broth and saffron in a pot and keep warm over lowest heat.

Preheat the oven to 400º F for gas ove, 450º F for electric.

Heat the oil a in paella pan measuring 17–18 inches at its widest point (or in a shallow casserole of a similar size), over two burners if necessary. Sauté the chorizo for 1 minute, then add the onion, pepper, ham, and parsley, and sauté until the pepper is slightly softened.

Stir in olives and the rice, and coat the rice well with the pan mixture. Pour in the hot broth, and bring to a boil, stirring and rotating the pan occasionally. Taste for salt, and continue to boil until the rice is no longer soupy but sufficient liquid remains to continue cooking the rice, about 5 minutes. Stir in the snap peas.

Transfer to the oven and cook, uncovered, until the rice is almost al dente, 10–12 minutes in a gas oven, 15–20 minutes electric. Remove to a warm spot, cover with foil, and let sit 5–10 minutes, until the rice is cooked to taste.

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