For breakfast we had “Spanish” French toast and for dinner, we had a variation on paella. Generally, when I think of paella, I think of seafood and rice. I’m sure I’m not alone here. However, per Wikipedia (must be true) there are several variations of paella. Tonight, I made paella de setas y pollo, again from Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World. (As I’ve mentioned before, this isn’t really my favorite cookbook. I question the authenticity and am frustrated by the way the book overlooks entire regions and countries. Still, it does have a good variety of recipes and while the provenance may be suspect, the quality is generally good.)
For the non-Spanish speakers out there, this is a chicken and mushroom paella. It also features chorizo. The recipe can be found here (I apologize for the poor quality of the page.)
It should be said, right off the bat, that I hate mushrooms. However, I also hate seafood, which is why I chose to do this paella instead of a more traditional seafood paella. Also, the point of this whole project was to try new things.
For my paella, I used fresh brown button mushrooms, chanterelles (a pain in the ASS to clean), and shiitakes. The recipe called for dried porcini mushrooms which I couldn’t find anywhere (seriously. I looked at QFC, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, and the awesomely carpeted Red Apple Market in Madison Park), so instead I used mixed dried mushrooms. Maybe there was a porcini in there. I don’t know. Mushrooms are gross.
This is basically a one pot dish, which is nice. It is also big enough to feed a small army. 6 chicken thighs make for a full pan (an overfull pan, in my opinion, and I was using my biggest skillet). I think it could easily be cut down and if I made it again, I would definitely cut it in half. As it was, after browning the thighs, I removed three to save for later and use when I make chicken and dumplings (a winter favorite) later this week.
As for the mushrooms, the recipe didn’t give any instructions on how to treat them. I left the rehydrated ones alone and roughly chopped the fresh mushrooms (figuring, correctly, that I wanted those buggers to be visible so I could later pick them out).
The dish came together easily. It smelled good and had great color, which I grudging admit the mushrooms helped to develop.
From start to finish, it took a big longer than the hour Bittman said it would, but I had factored that in. Bittman also didn’t account for the fact that I would melt a plastic bag on our range (I hate cooking on electric) and then spill my wine while I rushed to prevent a fire.
As for the final product, the rice was divine and the chicken was perfectly tender. As for the mushrooms, well ….
I think the main issue with this dish was that it didn’t really seem like paella. As Mike mentioned, the rice lacked the crust that you find in most paella. Additionally, the lack of seafood really changed the look and feel of the dish. While we both really liked it for what it was, I think this seemed more like risotto than paella.
Quinn, true to form, did not like it.
She did however like the premade flan I bought. But who doesn’t like flan?