Sunday, December 13, 2015

Day 6 & 7

Lots of hustle and bustle lately around here.  My dad just got out of the hospital and needs a lot of help.  I'm still recovering from my appendectomy and moving kind of slowly.  I whipped up some meals for him with the food in his house.  I combined a steak he had, with the other piece of the London broil I used for the broccoli beef. I cut it all into really small pieces, coated it in flour, and browned it in a tbsp of bacon grease and olive oil for flavor.  

Recipe:  beef stew

6 large red potatoes washed and cubed skin on
2 onions chopped into 1/2 in pieces
4 carrots sliced into 1/4 inch coins
4 celery robs split down the middle and chopped into small cubes
3 large garlic cloves diced
1 tsp Montreal steak seasoning (or salt and pepper to taste) 
8 cups beef broth (I used the powdered kind added in to frozen veggie stock) 
3 cups of chopped browned steak or beef stew meat.  Any kind works. 

After browning the meat in a cast iron skillet, I deglazed the pan with a cup of the broth.  There is a lot of flavor in that stuff that sticks to the pan.  Pour the liquid back into the pot with the stock.  Add all ingredients to pot.  Cook on high until boiling, then reduce flame to simmer.  If you want stew to be thicker, add a tsp of cornstarch dissolved in water to the stew and stir.  Keep adding cornstarch to desired thickness.  

After cooking this, I realized it was overbalanced with meat, so I cooked up more veggies in a separate pot until they were the same doneness and then added them to the pot.  This made a turkey roaster full of stew that we ate for 3 days.  I can't believe I didn't get a photo.   Next time I make it I'll add one.  

On Tuesday night my daughter brought her new boyfriend to meet us for dinner.  She asked for paella, without seafood!  (He's not a fan)  In most Spanish homes this is a crime.  So we call it Paella but our Spanish friends would call it a nice rice.  To the average American who doesn't know any better, it is fine.  So we call this Gringo Paella.  

1 linguicia or Portuguese style Hawaiian sausage sliced into coins
12-15 shrimp peeled and deveined (raw)
1 cup of chicken chopped into cubes  (Thigh meat or little drumettes work best, but I only had breast tenders so I used 4)
One tilapia filet sliced into rectangular pieces 1 inch long
3 cups arborio rice
4-5 strands saffron steeped in 1/8 cup hot water
7 cups of broth (directions below) 
3 tbsp sofrito (directions below) 

Now the techniques used to make this are the same as the real paella, only difference is the proteins used.  At the end I will list out the protein combinations  you can use to make a more authentic Paella.  

To start you need to make sofrito.  This takes a few hours to do properly, but the flavor you get is so worth the work.  We make a double batch and store it in a jar in the refrigerator with olive oil on top.  I have some in the fridge that's been there for over 6 months.  As long as you leave the sofrito covered with olive oil, you won't get mold.  You aren't working the whole few hours, don't worry.., you just need to let it cook for a long time (think Nonna's spaghetti sauce) to develop the flavors.  We have friends who just use a basic tomato sauce.  We prefer sofrito.  

 1 large can of diced or whole stewed tomatoes with juices
1-2 large onions sliced
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp smoked paprika

Brown onions in frying pan with 1/8 cup of the olive oil until golden brown.  Add tomatoes and rest of ingredients.  If using whole tomatoes break them down with a spoon.  Cook on high until bubbling, reduce to simmer and cook for 3 hours, stirring to make sure it doesn't stick.  When it's done and cooled a bit, purée with a blender for a smooth paste like sauce and put in a jar.    Pour olive oil on top to cover before storing th the fridge.  

For paella broth, peel the shells and tails off of the shrimp and add them to 8 cups of water in a pot.  Boil the water.  Some people add a cube of the powdered shrimp or ham broth.  I had 1 shrimp cube and a jar of better than bullion vegetable broth I added a tsp of that with the shrimp shells.  You just want to flavor the broth with seafood, vegetable broth or chicken or ham broth. Just don't use beef, it doesn't go with the flavor profile.  You can get shrimp broth cubes at the store where you get chicken and beef  broth.  

Now, we have sofrito, check.., we have broth boiling, or already boiled and simmering to keep it hot, check!  Time to start the paella.  

First brown the rice in 3 tbsp olive oil, remove from pan and set aside. 

Brown the linguicia and set aside.  Next cook the chicken until half done (if using breast or thigh meat like I did). If using drumettes, cook until almost done.  Remove from pan.  

Add 3 tbsp sofrito to the pan, stir in the rice.  Add 6 cups of broth, the saffron and water and bring to boil on MED HI heat.  Stir in 1/2 tsp smoked paprika.  (Trader joes has a good one) and the linguicia and chicken.  Reduce heat to low and allow paella to continue cooking. DO NOT STIR!  As water absorbs, keep checking rice for doneness.  Add additional broth if rice gets too dry.  Poor 1/2 cup at a time over entire pan, and then take wooden spatula and place it straight up and down in the rice.  Wiggle it a little bit to make room for the broth to get to the bottom.  It is important not to disturb the lovely crispy soccorat that is developing at the bottom of the pan.  When rice is done, turn off flame, add shrimp snd tilapia and bell pepper in a pretty pattern on top, cover with dish towels and let it rest for 10 minutes.  Serve with a lemon wedge.  This serves 6 generous plate full portions.  We cook enough for leftovers but usually there is only a little left and it gets gobbled up by someone for breakfast.  

Optional ingredients for more authentic paella 

 1 bag of mixed seafood (mussels, scallops, calamari etc 
Calamari rings and heads
1 bag raw mussels
1 bag raw clams
Pork ribs cut into small pieces
Fried eggplant
Green beans
Bell pepper any color

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