Monday, November 16, 2015

Paella for all of us

Sam and I are part of a wine club/dinner club that meets monthly called Grape Escape. We alternate hosting and the host picks the theme. Generally, the focus is more on the food, but we do enjoy choosing wines from different regions to match all the different courses. I don't know if it's improved my knowledge of wine any, but I have discovered I don't hate all ports as previously thought (although by the dessert course, it's fair to say my palette is compromised, so who can say for sure).

At any rate, this month was Sam and I's month to host and we picked Spain for our dinner/wine theme. This led to some excellent tapas and churros being brought. It also led me to take on the challenge of making paella for the first time. After doing some research online on different types of paella, I decided to go with the seafood version, since hunting down rabbit and snails, seemed like a tall order even at Central Market. I also didn't have a paella pan, so I ended up making it in two batches (which worked out well since we had a seafood allergic person partaking).

I went shopping Saturday morning at Central Market and about a million dollars later had all the ingredient. This included $10 (!) for an ounce of saffron threads, but I figured: go big or go home. I'm not planning to make paella that often, so I wasn't going to waste time on imitation saffron, if such a thing exists. As a side note, we also managed to spend $7 on fancy tonic water for the signature cocktail (Grape Escape makes some allowances for non-wine drinkers). At first I was aghast that they could sell tonic water for $7 right above the reasonably priced $.57 tonic water. Especially because tonic water is disgusting. Turns out though, $7 tonic water does actually taste better, and even more so when you put gin in it.

Above are the ingredients for paella for 10. Protein-wise there's: mussels, chicken thighs (cut into one inch pieces), chorizo, and shrimp. For those wanting to follow along at home, here's the recipe I used and surprisingly deviated from very little.

 The finished product! I never quite got the rice crunchy on the bottom as it was supposed to be. I think part of that was because I was worried about overcooking it. I also realized paella is a terrible thing to serve at a dinner party because most of the work has to be done right at the end. I ended up making it right when people were supposed to arrive and then letting it rest in the warm oven during the  first course. I might have lost a little of the texture there, but the taste was on point. For that, I can only attribute the saffron threads splurge.

And finally, here's a picture of all the Grape Escapers (minus Sam, unless you count his reflection in the window) enjoying their paella. It was important to take this one for posterity because I may not be making paella again. It actually was a lot easier than I thought, so my aversion to putting it into the dinner rotation is more a financial one. Still, it was a fun experiment to try. I'm already looking forward to next month's dinner club theme: holiday favorites.


  1. I'm glad it turned out so well! We have some cheap saffron that we got in Turkey and Barrie got some in Morocco, so I have a fair amount. However, it's pretty old. And because it's so hard to come by, I haven't used it but once. I love the color, but can't recall the taste.

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