Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fuck Paella.

So for the last while or so I have been off in the land of people with better things to do than blog. Turns out I didn't belong. For an alternative account of my absence from blogging and twitter, see this. I think it speaks to my particular brand of creative genius. I'm something like the Kanye of the food blog world.

Now that that's out of the way, here's a post which was actually written a while ago. It's filed under disasters.

14" Stainless Steel All-clad pans are BADASS. All-clad is the kind of stuff that makes home chefs (read: me) all bothered and hot. They're either a symbol of knowing way to much about cookware for one's own (wallet's) good, or a symbol of being hideously wealthy. I wouldn't have one if not for the fact that my parents inexplicably (i.e., they fall into neither of the previous two categories) had one lying around in our basement. And for the further fact that I decided I would rather leave clothes at home and stuff my suitcase with pans and books and socks (just under 40 lbs, thank you very much JetBlue). It is a perfect pan for paella. Not non-stick, so you can get a nice, caramelized sofrito going, great heat distribution, and plenty of room for a large paella (mine fed 7 happily). They love the oven heat. Which means that they are hotter than a raging den of iniquity when they come out of a 450 degree oven after half an hour. It's like someone has emblazoned on the handle: "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate." Well, some of us fail to take notice of such elegant warnings. This is why we can't have nice things:

Panhandles != safe zones for touching. This I learned slowly as I held my hand in a pitcher of cool water which I kept in my crotch all night (or did I hold an opponent's wife's hand in a jar of acid? hard to say . . .). Now, lesson learned, I wear oven mitts everywhere. The Peter-Michigan-Hands jokes are getting pretty old. Not that they were funny in the first place.

There are a couple of interesting things about making Paella, the first of which is the sofrito. I picked up my technique form watching my main man Jose Andres on Made in Spain. Essentially, you want to get your onions just carmelized, degalze the pan with a touch of white wine, and then mix in some grated tomato. The Spaniards seem to be all about the juicy innards of fresh tomatoes in a way that no one else is. I'm not sure who first had the idea to rub tomato halves on toasted bread, but this catalan mainstay is shockingly good (especially with a little olive oil and garlic joined in the rubbing). Grating tomatoes is kind of a brilliant little trick if you're looking to really integrate the tomato flavor without canned tomatoes or tomato paste. Simply cut a tomato in half and rub it on the coarse side of your grater over a bowl. You'll get a thick, fresh, tomatoey liquid in the bowl and a to-be-discarded tomato skin in your hand. Anyway, this goes into the pan with the caramelized onions and some slivered garlic and you've got my take on a sofrito. It's a fresh start for paella, soups, and light sauces.

The other interesting thing is that it requires no stirring. This is only interesting if you've been in the habit of making risotto for large groups of people.

{+} Paella Vegetariana

I'll sign off with a video of my two favs chatting food "policy." Long, but interesting.

Pleased to meetcha,