It’s no secret. Even occasional visitors to FOODalogue know that my ancestry has colored my life, especially in the kitchen.
I grew up in a Spanish-Italian household and I’ve traveled to Spain many times so, that is to say, I’m no stranger to paella. But … I never had one made with potatoes as the base.
A lot of people view a ‘one pot’ dish as a simple way out for a family meal. Sorry, that’s not my method.
I’m a firm believer that a one pot dish is the sum of its parts — and those parts better be seasoned, marinated and seared properly before going in the pot (or paellera as the case may be). When you cook (or partially cook by searing) the ingredients separately, each one retains its integrity and distinct flavors when added to the pot.
So, I spent a lot of time prepping. First thing I did was season the chicken with dry seasonings, most importantly Spanish paprika. Then I put the pieces in a baggie with olive oil and a bay leaf and let sit it in the refrigerator.
The shrimp and calarmari were treated similarly, but I substituted saffron for paprika.
Instead of the traditional addition of olives and capers to the cooking, I decided to incorporate them at the end to add a fresh element.
The Cooking Sequence
Potatoes were arranged in paellera with some sliced red onions and put in a hot oven (425).
Meantime, the chicken and seafood were seared and sauteed stove top with chorizo.
The chicken and chorizos were added to the potatoes and onions with about 1/3 cup of juices from sautés. I covered the pan with foil and cooked it for an additional 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven.
When the paellera was uncovered, I added the seafood, vegetables. piquillo peppers and lemon rings and placed it under broiler for a few minutes.
I served the olive salad at the table so everyone could spoon on their own.
They also enjoyed the first course which was baked baby zucchini with a hazlenut and panko crust, blistered tomatoes and a gorgonzola sauce.
Of course, the sign of a good family meal is the comfort to reach over to the serving dish and sop up some delicious juices with nice crusty Italian bread.
2. Reserve liquids from sautés (or use broth, wine, or combination).
2. Finishing Touch: Top with olive salad (Spanish stuffed olives, capers, minced celery, carrots, parsley and tomatoes dressed with olive oil and lemon) and a sprinkle of paprika sea salt flakes.
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