22 February, 2012

Paella a la Sanfranciscana - My entry into the Torres/Wine Enthusiast Paella Contest

I had never made paella before, but since the generous folks at Torres are offering a trip to Spain via a Wine Enthusiast Facebook contest I couldn't resist.  To make it original, my version relies on Dungeness crab.  By using lots of crab as well as basing the broth portion on crab stock, the delicate, briny taste of San Franciscan crustacean is front and center.  It takes some effort but very worth doing.  I used Crios Torrontes as the white wine in the recipe.  It made a lovely pairing as the citrus-stone fruit elegance of the wine went well with the richness of the rice dish.  I later found out the Torres wines are readily available at wine.com.  Next time I will try those!  Meanwhile, here is the recipe:

Paella a la sanfranciscana

Start with Crab stock to enhance the overall “crabbiness” of the dish. 
2 Largish cooked crabs, if you buy them live, boil the night before and let cool in fridge.  If you buy cooked, don’t let the fishmonger clean or crack them
2 quarts water
1 medium yellow onion, rough chop
1 ½ cut chopped tomatoes
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 dried bay leaves
2 tsp black peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh thyme
Over a 6 to 8 quart stockpot, twist the legs off the crab.  Break the small legs off into the pot.  Remove the knuckles and trim the legs and claws.  Crack the trimmed crab pieces to make them easier to eat when served.  Add the small bits that fall off during the cracking to the pot.    Remove the center section of the crab and scrape yellow-green tomalley into the pot.  The graying fleshy bits are the lungs.  Discard those and do not use.  Also remove and discard the head sac, the section behind the face/eyes.  Chop the carapace and toss into pot.  Once the lungs are removed, break the body into four sections to serve in the paella.  Add the trimmings from those to the pots.  Repeat with other crab.  Cover with the 2 quarts water.  Bring to a boil.  As it boils, white foam will bubble up.  Use a ladle to remove the foam.  Pushed from the center to the sides will make it easier.  Reduce the heat so the stock cooks at a fast, steady simmer.

Add the onion, tomato, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns and thyme.  Let the stock cook down for about an hour.  The liquid should just cover the crab shells.  Add water if necessary.

Add salt to taste.  At this point it should have a golden color and a rich taste.  If a richer taste is desired, cook down 20 min more.

Strain through a fine mesh strainer.  Refrigerate overnight.  Or put on the back burner while you prepare the rest of the paella.

I adapted a recipe from Whole Foods. 
8 cups good crab stock
1 cup clam juice
8 – 10 threads Spanish Saffron
1 Bay leaf
1 tsp thyme
Salt and pepper
½ cup plus 2 tblsp olive oil
½ lb small squid, cleaned and cut into rings
1 lb small shrimp Peeled and deveined
1 cup dry white wine (we used Crios Torrontes.  Chardonnay may be too oaky)
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup tomato sauce
3-4 roasted red peppers chopped
3 ½ cups short grain rice, bomba if possible
¾ cups frozen peas
¾ lbs mussels, cleaned and debearded
¾ cups Littleneck or similar clams, cleaned
Trimmed and cracked claws, legs and bodies of 2 Dungeness crabs

Add, clam juice, saffron, bay leaf and thyme to 8 cups of stock.  Simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.  Keep hot on the back burner.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a shallow paella pan or ovenproof sauté pan (about 18 inch diameter) heat ½ cup of the olive oil.  Sauté the squid.  Remove when done and set aside. 
Add the remaining tbsps of oil and sauté the onion and garlic over medium heat until softened.  Add the tomato sauce and red peppers and cook for 2-3 minutes more, stirring well.  Add the rice to the pan, stirring well to completely coat the rice with the onion mixture.  Return the squid to the pan.  Add the peas.  Stir well.  Pour in 7 cups of the hot broth (reserve one cup) and cook uncovered at a very low simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice begins to absorb most of the liquid.  Stir once to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.  Arrange the shrimp, mussels and clams on top of the paella, pushing them into the rice and broth.  Place in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, rice is just cooked, the shrimp are pink and mussels and clams have opened. Check after fifteen minutes and if the rice seems very dry, add the remaining cup of broth.  If it looks okay texture wise, just add the trimmed crab legs, claws and bodies and return to oven.  Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest 5 minutes before serving.  Serve with lemon wedges and lots of wine!

If you are reading this before 2./29/2012 it's not too late to enter yourself!

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