I am a huge fan of leftovers. I appreciate that they make my life easier without compromising nutritional value, and actually adding to economic value.
I read an article yesterday that says that Canadians, on average, throw out around half their food. Whaaaat?? I can't believe the amount is that high!
I almost never throw out food, really. When my parents were alive, and I was lucky enough to get an invite to supper (often!) I would take the carcass of whatever we ate to use in a stock. I don't take bones that have already been tasted though! Maybe I am actually just ridiculously cheap, but I consider it to be against my 'religion' to throw out food.
On Sunday we had old fashioned roasted chicken with stuffing. The stuffing was sooooo delicious...thank-you butter. I didn't cook up veggies because we had leftover paella from Saturday night's BBQ. We didn't finish it all up on Monday so today I had leftover chicken (no dressing though) and leftover, leftover paella. I decided to turn it into soup. A very easy conversion. I simmmered up the bones to get some stock for the soup and threw the works (with some additional frozen veggies) into a pot. I gave it a bit of kick with some Thai chilli peppers and a bit of ginger. It is delish!
The paella, on the other hand, was a bit of work. But well worth it! A lot of the work can be done in advance, if you want. I imagine there are quick recipes out there too, but I am not interested in 'quick' for paella. I wanted to start cooking paella because I was looking for a BBQ dish that would not cook toooooo quickly, giving me the ability to enjoy being outdoors, enjoy company, and, of course, enjoy a glass of wine! The paella took me 30-40 minutes on the Q...just right!
Apparently, the 'thing' about paella that is desirable is the crunchiness that the rice gets on the bottom of the paella pan. I have to admit that I have never tasted such awesome rice. I have done 4 paella dishes so far, two each with pork and chicken. Highly recommend!
I watched a video by Sarah Jay on how to make a traditional seafood paella. I did a variation of that for my paella. I gather that anything goes in a paella. Nice!
That said, these are a few important features of paella:
The flavour base for a paella is called 'sofrito'. I used tomato, shallot and garlic. It is simmered until the liquid is mostly evaporated. The tomatoes and onions are generally grated. I didn't have large tomatoes so I had to grate itty-bitty tomatoes. Don't recommend this! I did skip the grating method once and the only difference was that the skins were shriveled up on the top. Maybe a bit less attractive, but still tasted ok. Saffron is also part of the flavour base but is added to the stock liquid.
The rice has to be medium-grained. I have read that you can use bomba, arborio, valencia, and goya. I use arborio which Sobeys sells in their Compliments brand line.
The pan must have a wide base and is generally shallow. I have two now, one cost $15 at Winners. This one is too large for my current BBQ but will be fantastic for my Big Green Egg (when I get one!).
These photos were taken with my favourite food lens: Canon 100 mm macro f/2.8.
Brown your meat of choice (chicken, pork, etc). Set aside to put on dish prior to cooking.
Grate and simmer for sofrito:
1 1/2 large tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
Fry in 25 grams olive oil
Add to sofrito:
600-700 grams of rice
1 1/2 liter of stock (may need a bit more stock or water in the end when adjusting doneness of the rice)
400 grams of vegetables, diced (a lot of recipes use green beans, haricot beans. I used carrot and mushroom instead as I tend to have plenty on hand)
1 pepper (red, green, etc), diced
saffron, a few threads
salt and pepper to taste
Bring everything to a boil (don't forget your meat!). Simmer over medium heat until liquid is absorbed. Now we get to the 'art' of paella. You want to simmer until the rice is fully cooked, no liquid remains on the bottom of the pan, and the rice on the bottom is a bit crunchy. You need to taste it at this point and use your best judgment as your guide. This took around 35 minutes on my BBQ after the initial boil.
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