The Perfect Paella
Food means more to me than filling my stomach. Food should be chosen because of nutrition, taste and ‘experience’.
Taste and the experience of enjoying that food helps you manage portions and increase the pleasure of food. It’s helpful not to eat in front of your computer, the TV or in your car. That sets you up for mindless eating.
What makes me think of all this? The amazing culinary experience that I had while visiting my daughter in Barcelona, Spain. She and I went to a paella cooking class in the apartment of our skilled leader named Marta. She explained all the ingredients and why they were important to the flavor in a traditional Barcelonian paella. She explained that it’s a misnomer that Spanish paella is spicey. In fact it’s not. This variety does not have saffron but the key to the flavor is the sofritto. The reduced flavors of sweet peppers, onions, olive oil and garlic. Adding to that rich flavored sofritto are the fresh seafood, lean proteins and slow cooking, quality rice. Cook the food groups separately and add together in the end to create a robust eating adventure! And it was just that.
Mantras Famous Paella Cooking Class (www.eatwith.com/es/#!/offering/967)
Ingredients for 6
-1 green pepper
-2 small tomatoes
-3 cloves garlic, minced
( these 4 ingredients make up the sofrito vegetables)
-9 ounces pork chop cut into small pieces
-9 ounces of chicken or sausage cut into small pieces
-12 clams in the shell
-6 large shrimp
-6 large prawns
-1 cuttlefish (9 ounces) [I used frozen]
-Fish stock (2cups of stock for 1 of rice)
-High quality, longer cooking, short grain rice (70-80g per person)
-1 roasted red bell pepper
-2-4 ounces virgin olive oil (coat pan through out the cooking process)
-sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
*this recipe doesn’t include saffron which is not included in Barcelonian paella. It’s up to your taste.
1. Chop the sofrito vegetables very small (first 4 ingredients)
2. Remove the hard outer leaves from the artichokes, cut the tops off. Cut them in quarters and then in slices. Add lemon to avoid oxidation.
3. Roast red pepper over open flame or on an oven rack on high turning every 10 minutes for even cooking. Let sit to cool. Remove the skin from the pepper and cut into strips.
4. Steam the mussels and clams. Reserve for later.
5. Pour olive oil in the paella pan and sauté the shrimp and prawns for 1 or 2 minutes on each side. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
6. Do the same with the cuttlefish. Remove and set aside.
7. Sauté the pork and chicken. Remove and set aside.
8. Sauté the artichokes. Remove to the side.
9. To make the sofritto, first cook the onions. Sauté them for a while (the longer you cook, the more rich flavor you get from them). Add green pepper. When it’s almost done, add the garlic. Lastly, add the tomatoes. If you prefer you can add a little bit of sugar which can improve acidity of tomatoes. The sofritto will appear almost mushy. This is the way it’s supposed to be. Leave it in the pan.
10. Add the rice and mix well to make sure it absorbs all the flavor.
11. Incorporate all the meat, the cuttlefish and the artichokes to the paella.
12. Add the fish stock. Let it cook until almost done.
13. Turn off the heat. Arrange mussels, clams, shrimp, and prawns on top.
14. Place the roasted red pepper strips on top of the paella.
15. Cover the Paella and let it rest for at least five minutes. It will absorb the rest of the broth.
I hope you enjoy the photos of our cooking experience. A once-in-a-lifetime experience!