Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spanish lesson and an unwelcome guest

This recipe was inspired by my mother's friend who made this recipe often. She was a Spanish/French teacher and a wonderful cook. I was always so in awe of her because the way she cooked seem so exotic to me as a child. She also helped me with an assignment for Girls Scouts. I needed to memorize lines in Spanish, so she made a recorded demonstration of what I needed to learn.
She brought the recording over one Saturday morning. It was wintertime, and my mother invited her into the kitchen for coffee. I eagerly sat with the recording at the fireplace in the family room. Now it didn't cross my mind, nor my mother's about the few unwanted guests we had running around our house. It was winter, we lived with an apple orchard and an open field behind our house, not to mention but very important, was the fact that my mother was a meticulous cleaner. She took enormous pride in her home. As I sat rewinding and repeating my Spanish lines, a scream rang out within our house. The scream came from me, as a mouse dashed by on the stoop of the fireplace, right where I sat practicing my Spanish. My dad came to the rescue, and I can only imagine the horror my mother felt that the 'guest' decided to make an appearance at that moment. To this day, my mother finds little humor in that story.

I made a few adaptions with the ingredients, but find the flavors of this dish take me right back to the feelings of awe I had as a child watching my mother's worldly friend create dishes so new to me.

Serves 8
8 chicken legs
1 pound extra large shrimp - deveined and shells removed
1 pound chorizo sausage
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
3 medium tomatoes - chopped
8 cloves garlic- minced
6 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads- crumble threads and add to a few ounces of hot water to release flavor and color
6 tablespoons dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
approx. 1/2 cups Olive oil for stir frying ingredients
1 red bell pepper- cut into 1 inch strips
1 green bell pepper- cut into 1 inch strips
2 1/2 cups Spanish short grain rice, or Arborio rice
1 bay leaf
2 scallions- chopped
1/2 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
chopped parsley for garnish
Accompaniment: fresh lemon wedges
1.Once shrimp are deveined and shells removed, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Set aside.
2.Roast chicken legs in 450 degree oven until legs reach at internal temp of 160 degrees. Once done, set aside.
3.In a small bowl, sprinkle paprika over chopped tomatoes.
4.In a separate small bowl, mix minced garlic with 1 teaspoon sea salt. Make paste consistency.
5.Bring stock to a simmer in a 3 quart sauce pan, cover and keep at a bare simmer.
6.In a separate small bowl, mix together wine, saffron ( and liquid), and lemon juice.
7.Add olive oil to paella pan over moderately high heat and stir fry chorizo sausage for 8 minutes or until done. Transfer to platter.
8.Add shrimp, stir frying in pan for 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter with sausage.
9.Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan and stir fry peppers for 2 minutes. Stir in garlic paste and stir fry for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and stir fry for 1 minute.
10.Add rice and stir to evenly coat ingredients.
11.Measure hot stock to ensure it measures 6 cups, add water if necessary.
12.Stir stock, wine mixture, and bay leaf into rice.
13.Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly but gently. Look for rice to appear more on surface, and when the spoon would leave a path exposing the bottom of the pan when pulled through the mixture. ( About 5 to 7 minutes)
14.Remove pan from heat and stir in shrimp, chorizo sausage, scallions, peas, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Lay chicken legs decoratively around on top.
15.Bake, uncovered at 450 degrees, about 15 to 20 minutes.
16.Look for edges to form a golden crust and almost all liquid to be absorbed.
17.Take pan from oven and cover with tin foil. Let stand for 10 minutes. The rice continues to cook and will be perfectly cooked.
18.Sprinkle top of dish with chopped parsley. Garnish with lemon wedges.
19.Place in middle of your table. Enjoy.

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