Paella step-by-step, Jamon Iberico de Bellota and Inedit

I’m confident that in this day and age of food bloggers and sites like Saveur, this dish needs no introduction. But just to be sure that it isn’t mistaken for something else, here is what The Free Encyclopedia has to say about spanish paella. Isn’t it something? Bids are now open for the extra 4 seats at our next paella party. BYOB.

This past Saturday marked 7 years + 11 months of matrimony for the two of us, and if you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you should already know that I celebrate anything. American holidays, italian holidays, our birthdays, the dogs’ birthdays, seasonal equinoxes, and hello, even when Spain won the World Cup last year. Well Spain must’ve made a huge impression on me because I finally bought a paellera that is big enough to feed atleast 8. We threw everything in there. Chicken, chorizo, mussels, two types of clams, prawns, onions, bell peppers, beans, peas, tomatoes and yes, garlic scapes! It was such an amount of stuff that the rice seemed almost an afterthought, even if it’s the basis of what paella is all about. I did not follow any precise recipe, but took my cue from a very lively clip on youtube. They had the tunes, the moves and enough subtitles to give me the nerve to wing it on my own. The only adjustment that I would do next time is to go a little easy on the oil and broth, and to use a slightly bigger pinch of saffron threads. And a bit more rice.

We started off with jamon iberico de bellota. To call it a splurge is an understatement, but my tastebuds said it was worth it. If you know your spanish ham, then you know the beautiful flavor comes from a diet of tasty acorns that these pigs feast on. If only squirrels tasted just as good (I never tried one).

To drink, a .75L bottle of Inedit. This spanish beer made news when it first came out on the gourmet scene but I found it only recently at a local supermarket. At 5.50€ it was the cheapest item of the whole meal, and the fruity, fresh taste complimented the paella quite nicely. The photo below shows a few stages of paella-in-progress (my paellera is 17-inche wide) for which it required 3 gas burners to accommodate the size. My only disappointment? Failing at achieving the soccarrat, the browned crust that forms on the bottom. I’m not sure if this was due to the excessive amount of broth and oil or not cooking it on a proper fire, but the only crust that formed was a very small patch in the middle. As they say, practice makes perfect, so more paella parties to come.

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