It was an epic cooking class a few weeks ago— lots of women, lots of sparkling wine and lots of paella. Sue came all the way from Frederic with an outdoor paella cooker and an enormous pan with red handles. It was an impressive set-up, to say the least. I have made paella once and am a complete novice. Sue, on the other hand, is a pro and she showed us the ropes and made a beautiful pan of paella.
There was a lot of prep— slicing, chopping and dicing. We had plenty of hands and the work went quickly. There is a particular rice for paella, Bomba— it absorbs lots of liquid while remaining firm and doesn't turn to mush. I had a couple of bags left over from my initial, and not terribly successful, attempt at paella last winter and Sue put it to good use. We did a seafood paella with a little of chorizo from the Northern Smokehaus for good measure— absoloutely delicious.
I met Sue two or three years ago when her son and future daughter in law had their groom's dinner at Good Thyme. At the time, I never would have guessed she would someday be cooking paella in my front yard. It never ceases to amaze me how the dots in our lives eventually get connected.
While I would like to say I made a seafood stock from scratch, I would be lying like a rug. I did a little research and decided upon this seafood stock. It was perfect— briny and clean tasting. In the chaos of the evening, I didn't write down the recipe Sue used but it was a basic paella recipe— mussels, clams, shrimp, assorted veggies, seafood stock and saffron. If I had to guess, I would say it is pretty close to this recipe.
Rice, of any kind, has always presented a challenge for me— it is either too mushy or under done and hard as nails. I like paella because the caramelized and crusty rice on the bottom is not only cool but desirable. It even has a name, socarrat. Finally, my utter lack of rice making skills would not be a hindrance in the final product.
It was another joyful evening spent in the kitchen with friends. The house reverberated with their voices and laughter for hours after they left. I like to think we are knitting the fabric of our community one meal at a time and I am grateful for each and every moment I get to share with these amazing women.