Three kings ChillidaThis Sunday, January 6 is the Christian celebration of Epiphany or Three Kings Day.  Called Reyes Magos in Spain, it commemorates the 12th day after Christmas when three kings or wise men followed a star to bring gifts to the baby Jesus.   Celebrated in Europe, Latin America, and Australia with festive parades, Spanish children leave their shoes out the night before Reyes Magos and find them full of presents in the morning.   In France, Epiphany is celebrated with a special Galette des Rois, or King Cake which contains a féve, or tiny figurine.  The person who receives the figurine in their piece of cake is named King or Queen for the day which might require them to provide next year’s galette.

NY Times Galette des rois

Galette des Rois; New York Times photo

An Epiphany dinner with a Spanish-French theme will delight the taste buds, especially if it’s a menu of Paella with a Galette des Rois for dessert.   The King Cake can be made at home; click Bonjour Paris for a recipe.  Ingredients such as French butter and Dufour frozen puff pastry are available at Paris-Madrid Grocery.  Another option is to buy a ready-made Galette des Rois from a specialty bakery such as Le Panier in Pike Place Market.   To make the paella, try using our classic recipe, shown below.

Finca Tresolmos VerdejoGarciarevalo Finca Tresolmos Verdejo 2016 Rueda ($13.99)   100% Verdejo from pre-phylloxera vines of 130-145 years old, grown on sandy soils at 900 meters elevation.  The extreme temperature fluctuations and excellent drainage allow the grapes to mature with a perfect balance of ripeness and acidity.  After spontaneous fermentation in stainless steel tank, the wine is aged on its lees for six months before bottling.  Finca Tresolmos offers up fresh and exotic aromas of lime leaf and lime blossom. The fruit notes are delicate and inviting with richness and medium weight on the palate. With a great balance of minerality, earthy hints, citrusy fruit, and a touch of brine, the finish is dry and lengthy.  Fantastic with shellfish.

BergamotaBergamota Tinto, Dâo Portugal 2015 ($11.99)  80% Touriga Nacional 5% Tinta Roriz, 5% Jaen, 5% Alfrocheiro, 5% other.  Our new staff favorite. Suave, mineral-laden and balanced, this Portuguese red is a superb winter wine, stellar with comfort food such as cassoulet or roast chicken.  “Dry farmed, sustainable/non-certified organic.  Ripe cherry, sweet vanilla, damson, and floral aromas.  Fresh and bright on the palate with fine-grained tannins, brisk acidity and lots of red fruit flavors.  Just starting to come together with lots more to come.”  95 points Decanter

Sharon's paella in contestPaella with Seafood, Chicken, and Chorizo from The Spanish Table Cookbook by Steve Winston
There are many, many “paella” recipes. Originally paella was a dish made in Valencia using chicken, rabbit, snails and three kinds of fresh beans.  Now, paella is almost always associated with seafood, chicken, and vegetables.   There is no right or wrong recipe, only the recipe that pleases you.   Paella ingredients vary from place to place, and time to time, depending on local traditions and the ingredients available.  Anything from fresh garden produce to holiday left-overs can inspire a cook to create an original version of this one-dish feast!  The dish was named after the pan it is cooked in, a paellera, which is also used for a variety of rice dishes, such as arroz negro, as well as the Spanish pasta dish: fideuá.  This is only one recipe, use your imagination and the ingredients at hand, varying the ingredients can make paella an everyday dish.

The following portions are per serving.  Multiply the portions by the number of guests to calculate the total quantities needed of each ingredient.

½ cup uncooked Valencian rice per person
1 cup chicken stock per ½ cup of rice, or 1 cup stock per 1/3 cup Bomba rice
5 threads saffron per person, dissolved in ½ cup white wine
4 tablespoons, or more, olive oil, to cover the bottom of the pan
1 piece of chicken, such as a thigh, per person
½ to 1 soft chorizo, such as Bilbao or Palacios, per person
½ teaspoon Spanish sweet or bittersweet pimentón (paprika) per person
1 clove garlic per person, minced
¼ cup chopped onion per person
⅛ cup grated tomato (cut in half, grate and discard the skin) per person
2 shrimp or prawns per portion
2-4 small clams and/or mussels per portion
red piquillo peppers cut in strips
artichoke hearts, green beans or peas
cooked Granja beans (optional)
lemon wedges for garnish

Heat stock and keep warm.  Toast saffron gently in a small pan.  When aroma is released, add white wine.   Bring to a boil then remove from heat.
Heat paella pan over medium heat, add olive oil and fry chicken.
When chicken is golden and the juice runs clear, add garlic and onions and saute until translucent.  Add chorizo and cook until heated.
Add the rice, stirring until well coated with oil (about one minute).
Add the paprika and grated tomato.  Stir, add saffron flavored wine and hot stock.  Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan, then add piquillo pepper and artichoke hearts, green beans, cooked garrofón beans or peas.
Adjust heat to maintain a slow boil.  After about five minutes, add the seafood.  Cook another 15 minutes, or until rice is done.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley, garnish with lemon wedges and serve.

(To ensure proper cooking, clams may be steamed in a separate pan, then added to the paella with their nectar substituting for some of the chicken stock).

Traditionally, paella is not stirred during the second half of the cooking time.  This produces a caramelized layer of rice on the bottom of the pan considered by many to be the best part.  With a large pan, it is difficult to accomplish this on an American stove and you may prefer to stir the paella occasionally or move the pan around on the burner(s).  Another alternative is to finish the paella by placing it in a 350º oven for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking.  Paelleras can also be used on a barbeque, over an open fire (the most traditional), or on a countertop grill.