Fresh Padron Peppers are still available! They are tasting great right now, tender and flavorful. We can’t predict how long they will be available with cooler weather, so get them now while you can.
Some absent cheeses arrived today: Etorki Basque sheep milk cheese, Picandou Frais individual sized fresh goat cheeses, Delice de Bourgogne triple cream cow milk cheese, Brebirouse Argental soft sheep cheese.
Zursun Idaho Heirloom Beans restocked: Zursun sells a huge variety of heirloom beans grown by farmers in Idaho’s Snake River Canyon region. We’ve now got Black Lentils, Green Lentils, Ivory Lentils, Pardina lentils, Cannellini Beans, Chana Dal, Christmas Limas, Split Green Peas, Split Yellow Peas and Paris Bistro Soup mix in stock.
Pimenton Peanuts are back – Peanuts coated with smoked paprika are now in stock. Find them on top of the deli case near the salami and jamons.
Paella tastes great at any time of year. This flavorful rice dish is a blank canvas that can reflect the seasons with ingredients that are fleetingly available. Think of glorious paellas made with summer vegetables, fall mushrooms, or Copper River Salmon. Using seasonal ingredients perfectly captures the original spirit of paella making, using rice flavored with foraged foods cooked over a fire. If you have never made paella but would like to, read on! Below is an overview of paella making, along with two recipes. First is the classic recipe published by The Spanish Table with single-serving quantities which is easily adapted to the number of servings and different ingredients. The second recipe, with Butifarra Catalan sausage, duck breast, and garbanzo beans, is a new version that I made this week.
History: Originally paella was a dish made in Valencia using chicken, rabbit, snails, and three kinds of beans. It’s named after the pan called a “paellera” in the Valenciano dialect, (the Latin root is patella, meaning pan). It was a dish of the poor, of cocina pobre, rice and whatever, wild rabbits from the snare, a netted bird, snails gathered from the dewy morning grasses, or chicken. Gradually paella mixta is what most people came to think of as paella, combining shellfish with chicken, sausage, and vegetables.
Conferring with someone from Valencia, the home of paella, about the proper ingredients can get you in quite a discussion. Not because it is hard to make but because for the Valencians, the recipe comes loaded with emotional baggage. Perhaps the only subject in American cuisine so fraught with similar controversy is BBQ, where debates over using a dry rub versus wet sauce can degenerate into an exchange of invectives.
How are pans made? Set back by its destructive Civil War, Spain was slow to industrialize and until a generation ago, paella pans were still being made by hammering a round piece of metal over a wood form, rolling the edges by hand. The dimples in the bottom of modern machine-made paella pans are vestiges of the marks left by the hammer when shaping the metal. Today Garcima, our paella pan supplier uses robots to make the smaller pans. A magnetic arm picks up a metal blank and places it in a metal press which stamps out the most popular sizes of pans. The largest pans we sell, those serving 50 to 200 people, are still made one at a time.
First, choose your paellera metal: Carbon steel, Enameled, or Stainless steel? At Paris Madrid Grocery, we are paella geeks and are here to help you decide. Each type of pan has its merits and suits a different kind of cook.
Carbon steel: The least expensive and lightweight, perfect to take on a road trip or picnic. Preferred by connoisseurs because the metal heats up and cools down quickly, allowing great control over the cooking process. However, it does require a bit of TLC, just like a cast iron pan. We include care instructions with purchase, but here is the low-down on seasoning the pan before use: Treat carbon steel paelleras as you would a Chinese wok or a cast-iron skillet. Before using the first time, boil water in it to remove oil, dirt, and the label glue. Dry carefully, heat up the pan, then coat both sides with olive oil. Season the pan by baking it in the oven until the oil browns (at 350 degrees, for 10-15 minutes until the oil turns golden). Re-oil lightly after each use. Never leave water in the pan as it may rust. If a carbon steel pan does rust, use black, wet, or dry sandpaper wetted with olive oil to remove all the rust. Wash and wipe clean and re-season. Be sure you remove all the rust before re-seasoning.
Enameled pans: Very popular, and only a few dollars more than carbon steel, these paelleras do not require any special treatment. Just wash the pan and start cooking. Great for using over a wood fire because it’s already black!
Stainless steel/Induction: Gorgeous sparkling steel, this is the beauty queen of paelleras. Very durable as it’s made from the highest quality material, easy to clean, and doesn’t require seasoning. It is a favorite for gifts and it makes a stunning centerpiece on the table. If you have an induction stove a normal paellera will not cook properly because it’s slightly concave. We do stock a limited supply of stainless steel induction pans which are completely flat on the bottom and designed for use with induction stoves.
Next, decide which type of paella you’re hungry for and choose essential ingredients.
The most important ingredient is rice. It’s important to use short or medium grain rice with low starch. To make the most authentic paella, use Spanish rice, such as Valencian D.O. rice, or Bomba, a special strain of Valencian rice. The Moors from North Africa introduced rice to Spain in the 10th century and began growing it in the Albufera lagoon estuary, near Valencia. Thus Valencian arroz is the original paella rice. Other types of rice can be substituted such as short-grain Arborio or Carnaroli Italian rice but these have higher levels of starch and with too much stirring can result in a sticky texture. Long-grained rice does not absorb as much liquid and results in a soupy textured paella.
Bomba rice: Interesting fact: In 1998, as Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid were about to publish their seminal work, Seductions of Rice, they called to ask if The Spanish Table sold Bomba rice. We had to admit not. They listed The Spanish Table as a mail-order source in the appendices anyway. Thus began the search to import Bomba rice. Through IVEX, a Valencian government trade group, a producer agreed to sell some bags of bomba until they discovered this required printing a label in English to sew in the seam of the bags. Eventually, they acquiesced with a prod from IVEX. Printing labels for one pallet of rice was not cost-effective, but this was the first Bomba to be commercially imported into the US and as a trade mission, IVEX thought it was worth it.
Bomba is the parent of the two hybrids of Valencian rice. It is hard to grow because it is low yielding and not disease resistant. So it is grown by small farmers in isolated plots and usually hand-harvested. Bomba was almost extinct as a crop when it was rediscovered by chefs of fancy restaurants in Barcelona where cost is not a fatal barrier. Bomba absorbs three to four parts water to one part rice, 1 ½ times more than what the hybrid rices absorb. This means a more intensely flavored rice dish when it is cooked in stock as in paella. It is not much of an attribute if cooked in plain water. Bomba also is very forgiving if overcooked, its grains retaining their integrity longer.
Over the years, I noticed that when my paella received the most compliments, and tasted richest to me, it was when I used Bomba so I have come to only use Bomba for paella style cooking where the rice is absorbing a flavorful broth as it cooks.
Chorizo: In Spain, cooks do not use chorizo in paella but we love it and generally always put it in our paellas. Spanish style chorizo is lean with chunks of meat and the flavor is dominated by pimentón and garlic. Mexican chorizo is not really a substitute and fennel-infused Italian sausage is definitely not. In Spain, fennel is used to flavor anis, not sausage. There are two basic cures of Spanish chorizo – soft, for cooking such as Bilbao, and hard for slicing and eating without further preparation. A related sausage is cantimpalo and cantimpalito in its bite-sized form.
Saffron: Also introduced to Spain by the Moors, just a couple of pinches of saffron threads can transform the flavor of a paella. It’s best to first steep the threads in a small amount of hot wine or broth to disperse the flavor, then add the saffron liquid to the rice.
Broth: A flavorful broth will give your paella more depth, and is essential if using Bomba rice. You can use any flavorful liquid from clam juice to fish stock to chicken broth to vegetable stock. Use home made broth, commercial broth or Aneto broth from Spain. Aneto broths are the next best thing to homemade broth, as they are all naturally made with fresh ingredients and have very concentrated flavors.
Remaining ingredients: Common ingredients include beans, peas or artichokes, mushrooms, seafood, fresh vegetables, meat, poultry… the combination depends on the recipe.
☞ Deliberately accumulating leftovers for Paella is an act of pure cunning and foresight. For example, when cutting up chicken for another recipe, set aside the thighs and freeze them. When preparing a pork roast, buy a little larger cut than you need, dice up the extra, slip it into a baggie and freeze it. Freeze some extra shrimp and fish too. That way, when you want to toss together a paella for two, you are already half way there.
☞ Stocks: Many times, you have an opportunity to collect stock ingredients just by using trimmings when making another dish. Shrimp shells can be simmered, or chicken backs and necks or clean vegetable peels and trimmings. For depth of flavor, add a teaspoon of pimentón to every half gallon of stock.
The order of cooking: Paella is cooked in a pan by adding ingredients progressively and allowing their flavors to merge and mingle and be absorbed into the rice. Ingredients are never removed once they are added. Exception: When using a pan slightly beyond its capacity, I remove the chicken pieces and keep them warm until everything else is in the pan and then I put them back on top where they can float on the surface, rising slightly above the rim of the pan.
Warm saffron gently in a small pan. When the aroma is released, add white wine.
Allow it to come to a near boil then remove from heat.
Coat the bottom of the paella pan with olive oil and heat over medium heat.
Add chicken and fry, turning, until golden brown.
When chicken’s juice runs clear, add garlic and onions and sauté until translucent.
Add chorizo and cook until heated through and begins to sweat fat.
Add the rice and pimentón, stirring until well coated with oil (about one minute).
Add the grated tomato (You can just grate it directly into the paella pan).
Add the liquid, stock, or water and the saffron steeped in wine.
Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan, and adjust heat to maintain a simmer.
Add the seafood.
Add cooked beans or other pre-cooked vegetables you are using.
When the rice has cooked for 15 minutes after the broth is added, start checking to see if the rice is done.
When the rice is done, it is traditional to let the paella, dormir, rest for fifteen minutes while the cook has an aperitif. Remove from the heat and loosely cover – in Spain often a section of the daily newspaper is used (but not the section with the soccer scores). I set a sheet of aluminum foil over the paella without crimping the edges so it can breathe a little.
Sprinkle with minced parsley, garnish with lemon wedges and serve.
Tip: ☞ To ensure proper cooking, I used to steam the clams in a separate pan, then add them to the paella with their nectar counting as part of the total liquid. Now I just push them, hinge side down, well into the paella as soon as the liquid approaches a boil.
Tip: ☞ 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, the socarrat, 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 be tempted to stir the Paella occasionally. A better alternative is to either move the pan around on the burner(s) or to finish the Paella by placing it in the oven for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking at 350º. Paella pans can also be used on a barbeque, over an open fire (the most traditional heat source), or on a counter-top grill.
Cooking a paella grande: Making a giant paella right now is probably not likely due to Covid 19. But here’s food for thought for the day when we can throw huge celebrations! Making paella for as many as forty or fifty people is not really any harder than a small one once you steel your nerve and jump in. It may even be easier. Make a list of the ingredients you are using in the order you will add them to the pan and prep them following proper sanitation and temperature-control procedures. I keep everything in a big cooler by my feet until I use it and tape the checklist of ingredients to the top of it. Make sure you will have enough heat from whatever source you are using and that the pan will remain stable and level when filled. Then it is show-time. Gather everyone around and start cooking.
Tip: ☞ When shopping for ingredients for a big paella, you can cut your prep time by the way you select them. I use chicken strips which cook through quickly and easily. Bags of individually frozen peas and beans can just be dumped in right from the bag. There are also bags of mixed seafood available in the frozen food section which contain shrimp, squid, mussels, and other kinds of seafood which can be easily added to the pan, even if they are still frozen, once the liquid is boiling. I dump in jars of things such as artichoke hearts, liquid and all. If adding a lot of liquid this way, reduce the amount of broth accordingly.
Tip: ☞ At long events, where everyone will not be eating at the same time, such as open houses, you can cook two large paellas, one after the other, cooking the second as you serve the first. You will need two pans but only one heat source.
Heat: If you think your heat source is marginal for the size pan you are using, bring the liquid to a boil before adding it. Otherwise, it is easier just to buy large containers of clam juice and/or chicken stock and pour them directly into the pan. Once, in a friend’s back yard, I just used water and added it by filling the pan up using a garden hose. It added a charming element of flippancy. Paris Madrid Grocery also sells propane-fired ringed burners in various sizes to ensure even heat on the bottom of the pan. Each ring has a separate control. Lightweight and easy to transport, they take the guesswork out of temperature control.
Chateau La Bourée Bordeaux Clairet 2019 ($16.99) This is an excellent late-summer wine that transitions well to cooler temperatures. A blend of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Franc, fermented and aged in stainless steel on the lees for 45 days before being lightly filtered and bottled. It offers up the light freshness of rosé with the depth and body of a light red wine. Slightly spicy with a lovely hint of forest berries, it can be served slightly chilled with anything from grilled lamb to chicken, or with a flavorful fish such as tuna or salmon. Enjoy!
Luis Seabra Xisto Ilimitado Douro 2017 ($23.99) Luis Seabra, former winemaker at Nieeport, has focused his winemaking on the distinct soil types in the Douro valley, and this latest project shows the breadth of style that is achievable in the region. Bright, focused and fresh, Xisto Ilimitado is a great introduction to the new Douro. A field blend of 6 varieties planted across 3 subzones in the Douro, Illimitado is a survey of the schist-driven terroir in the appellation. Aged 30% in stone lagar and 70% in vat. “High toned red and blue fruit aromas, tinged with wet stone and violets. On the palate, lush, but with bright acidity to balance the red cherry and pomegranate fruit. White pepper, slate, and herbal aromas overlay the core of fruit on a juicy, fresh finish.” 93 points Decanter
Domine de la Charbonnière Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2016 ($45.00) #30 in Wine Spectator Top 100 of 2019 – 94 points. “Features the dense, dark, ripe profile of the vintage, with a core of steeped currant, fig and boysenberry fruit, supported by a dense structure, notes of dark earth, tobacco and bitter cocoa, and a long finish that ripples with latent energy. Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre.”- Wine Spectator
PAELLA RECIPES: There is no right or wrong paella recipe, only the one 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. Use your imagination and the ingredients at hand, varying the ingredients to make paella an everyday dish. There are paellas which are all seafood, all shellfish, made only with lobster and lobster stock, meat paellas and vegetarian paellas which may even include turnips. If you don’t have a paellera, use a heatproof clay cazuela. You can also bake paella in the oven.
The Spanish Table Paella Recipe (quantities shown are per serving)
½ cup uncooked Valencian rice per person or 1/3 Bomba rice
1 cup chicken stock per ½ cup of Valencian paella rice, or per 1/3 cup of Bomba rice
5 threads saffron per person, dissolved in ½ cup total white wine (not per person)
4 tablespoons or more as needed, olive oil, to cover bottom of pan (not per person)
1 piece of chicken, such as a thigh, per person
½ to 1 soft chorizo, such as Bilbao or Palacios, per person
1/4 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. Allow to come 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 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 counter top grill.
Duck breast, Butifarra and Garbanzo Paella (six servings)
1 1/3 cup uncooked Bomba rice
3 1/2 – 4 cups Aneto chicken broth
2 pinches saffron threads, dissolved in 1/2 cup Fino sherry
4 tablespoons, or more, olive oil, to cover bottom of pan
1 Êlisê duck breast, available at Paris Madrid Grocery, thawed
2 Doña Juana butifarra links, sliced into rings
1 teaspoon Spanish sweet or bittersweet pimentón (paprika)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large shallot, chopped
2 juicy tomatoes, grated (cut in half, grate and discard the skin)
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
2 cups cooked garbanzo beans
2 cups fresh green beans, chopped into bite size pieces
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Chop the vegetables and cut cross hatches into the fat of the duck breast without cutting the meat. Warm the Fino sherry in the microwave for 20 seconds and steep the saffron in it.
Put the olive oil in the paellera and heat. Sauté the garlic and shallot in olive oil until softened, then add bell pepper and cook for a couple minutes. Grate the tomatoes into the pan and cook for 2 additional minutes.
Add the garbanzo beans, butifarra slices and paprika; cook until sausage is brown on both sides, . At this point turn off the heat to sear the duck breast.
Using a pre-heated oven proof pan over medium to high heat, sear the duck breast, fat side down for 5 minutes. Turn over and sear the other side for one minute, then put the pan in the oven and cook the duck for 12 minutes.
While the duck breast is cooking, turn the heat back to medium under the paellera and when the ingredients sizzle, add the rice. Toss the rice in pan drippings to coat, then add the Fino sherry & saffron mixture. Stir to blend, then add 3 1/2 cups of broth. Add the fresh green beans and stir again to combine all of the ingredients.
Simmer for 10-12 minutes until the rice is done, checking after 10 minutes that rice isn’t burning.
Meanwhile, remove duck breast from the oven and with a thermometer, check the internal temperature. Cook it until it reaches 150 degrees.
When the rice is done, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
When duck breast is done, allow it to rest under foil for 5 minutes, then slice thinly and arrange the slices on top of the paella.
Sources: The Spanish Table cookbook by Steve Winston, and years of experience cooking and eating paella!
Paris-Madrid Grocery remains open regular hours, 7 days per week for in-person, socially distanced shopping. Our hours are Monday-Saturday 10 AM – 6 PM and Sundays, 11 AM – 5 PM. If shopping inside the store, a mask must be worn as per the recent state mandate to minimize the spread of Covid-19. If you don’t have a mask, we have some available at the check-out counter, along with complimentary vinyl gloves and hand sanitizer. If you prefer to shop virtually, you may order online, or call the store with your order at 206-682-0679. No matter how you place an order, curbside delivery is available by request. To place an online order, visit parismadridgrocery.com click the orange Order & Pick Up button on the home page. A product list will pop up; you may place an order and designate a pickup day and time. We will call you for credit card details when we receive the order and you’re set!
We have a designated 15-minute free pickup and load zone in front of our store to assist with quick stops and on-line curbside pickups. Elsewhere on the street, the City of Seattle is now charging for parking but only $.50 per hour. Read here for the latest details about parking in Seattle during the pandemic.