Shared Meal, Spanish Style

Posted by in Food and Recipes

paellaFor most meals, I plate the dish. I’m working on my techniques to make my dishes more attractive. But once in awhile, a shared meal is a refreshing change. If you think about it, it’s not something we do a lot. A fondue is probably the closest we come to it. For our change-of-pace meal, we went Spanish style and had paella.

Layers of Spanish Style Flavor

I strive for authenticity in my meals when preparing regional foods. This recipe from seemed to follow that principle, probably with the exception of a couple of ingredients.

Paella is definitely a labor of love. It’s not a quick menu item. It takes time to develop its layers of flavor. I assure you though; it’s worth it. The paella recipe I followed called for making everything in one pan. That’s where the long part comes in.

You’re cooking green beans, red peppers, and artichokes—all of which take a lot of time. You can substitute what you want according to taste, like peas for the green beans. And a Spanish dish begs for more seafood, like clams and mussels in addition to the shrimp.

The Best Part

Paella has two requirements no matter what you add to the pan. The first is the sofrito, a combination of onions, garlic, peppers, and tomatoes cooking in Spanish olive oil, of course. It is the foundation of many dishes, but key to paella.

The next one reminds me of my dad. When he made roasts, the best part were the crunchy and caramelized ends. I remember sharing bits of them with him. That’s how I’d describe the socarrat, the yummy caramelized tomato crust that forms on the bottom of the pan when the paella is just about done.

Serving the Paella

You should serve the paella at the time in the pan that you cooked it in. That of course means that you’re starting with a large skillet or proper paella pan. Be sure to have plenty of lemon wedges on hand. You can tuck them into the pan to warm them so they release more juice.

And before you serve, take a few moments to arrange the foods decoratively in the pan. I like to put the shrimp in the center with the larger pieces of chicken and chorizo on the outside.

There’s something very comforting and intimate about sharing a meal from the same pan together. Along with a bottle of Spanish wine, it is the perfect date night dinner. Bon appetit! Chris DR

Image by Chris DR. All rights reserved. cc