PAELLA THERAPY

Mr. Alpenglow needed a little therapy today. At 4:30 in the morning, he took a two-hour train to the airport for an international flight only to find that his passport had just expired. On the train-ride home, he learned that March 27th is National Spanish Paella Day. Having already missed International Waffle Day two days earlier, Mr. Alpenglow was determined to solemnly observe this holiday. There is no better dish than paella from a therapeutic perspective. You build it in layers beginning with a sofrito of onion, garlic, tomato paste, bay leaves, and smoked paprika; you add chorizo, peppers and peas, followed by short-grained rice, which begins to soak up all these flavors; then a clam and chicken broth flavored with the heady scent of saffron is added; and finally, medallions of monkfish, shrimp, and briny mussels. The finished dish, a generous expression of conviviality, simply overwhelms the day’s accumulated lapses.

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SEAFOOD PAELLA
(adapted from a recipe by Eric Ripert)

3 cups of chicken stock
3 cups of clam juice
1/2 tbsp. saffron threads
1 pound of monkfish, cut into medallions
1 pound of large shrimp, peeled/deveined
1 pound of medium mussels, scrubbed clean
6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp. smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 pound sweet chorizo, diced
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
2 cups of frozen sweet green peas
3 cups of short-grain rice (Bomba or Arborio)
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup of thinly sliced scallion
1 lemon, halved
17-inch paella pan

Place the chicken stock and clam juice in a pot and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the saffron. Set aside. Season the monkfish medallions with olive, oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat the oil in a 17-inch paella pan on the stovetop. Add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat until the onions are beginning to caramelize. Add the bay leaves, chorizo, peppers, and paprika. Increase heat and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Saute this for 3-4 minutes. Add the saffron-flavored stock and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Check the seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the peas, taking care not to disturb the bottom layer of rice. Arrange the monkfish and shrimp on top of the rice. Arrange the red pepper strips like spokes on a wheel. Finally add the mussels, hinge-side down. The paella is ready for the oven (where the rice will develop a crust) when the rice looks/taste almost cooked and the liquid is not visible. Place in the oven and bake until the shrimp and monkfish are cooked and the mussels have opened, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let it sit for 10 minutes. Scatter scallions on top and serve with the lemon halves.

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One thought on “PAELLA THERAPY

  1. What a wonderful way to turn a negative event into something healthy and delicious! But that had to be so frustrating!

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