Say “yes.” 2


Photography by Matt Hocking

Photography by Matt Hocking

In my sophomore year at Colby College, I took an improv class. The first rule we learned was to say “yes.” No matter what crazy line or situation you receive, just go with it and let the comedy magic happen.

Last March I received the following email from Agustin Nomdedeu of Barcelona.

“Hi, i´m from Spain and my favorite passion is the kitchen, I spend most of my time cooking for my family, with a group of friends, cookers, or sometimes for small caterings. I´m not profesional.

I saw you last year in the Eastern Market in a short visit to D.C.

I´m going to spend 2 or 3 weeks this summer there and i´d like to contact you if able to share once your session market, just to give to know, for example, the spanish paella.”

I reread it. I wasn’t sure what to do. Did I need this like a hole in the head or was it going to be the coolest thing ever?

I said “yes,” and magic happened.

Photography by Matt Hocking

Photography by Matt Hocking

This week, during our regular Tuesday night #testkitchen, Agustin came to our home and taught us how to make both a classic Valencian meat and a seafood paella. It was delicious, made even better by Agustin’s warmth and generosity. He will join me at the Market this weekend to prepare the two paellas during my weekly cooking demo.

Have you ever tried making paella before?  If not, this is your chance. Say “yes.”

Paella Valenciana

You’ll need a paella pan. This will seem like a frivolous investment. Until you make your first batch. Then you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. 

Serves 6 people

Photography by Matt Hocking

Photography by Matt Hocking

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs and breast
  • 1 pound rabbit or pork ribs, 4-6 medium pieces
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, grated on a box grater
  • 3 whole cloves garlic
  • 1 tbs Spanish paprika
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 lb mixed green and wax beans, cut in 2″ pieces
  • 3/4 lb Bomba or Calrose rice*
  • Saffron to taste
  • 1/2 pound frozen peas
  • 3-4 4” springs fresh rosemary
  • 3/4 cups olive oil

*Bomba is a Spanish rice available online. Small and round like Arborio, however the grains remain separate without the creaminess that Arborio gives to risotto. Calrose, bred at the University of California, Davis, is a more readily available substitute found in some American grocery stores.

Directions:

  • Pour the oil into a 6 person paella pan, about 14″ wide, set over medium heat and warm.
  • Add the chicken and rabbit or pork pieces. Cook until browned on both sides. About 6-8 minutes. Remove meat from pan and cut into 1/2” pieces.
  • Add red pepper slices to pan and cook until crisp tender, about 3-5 minutes.
  • Return meat to pan and push out to sides. Add grated tomato and garlic to center of pan. Sauté 3 minutes, reducing heat if garlic begins to brown.
  • Add paprika and sauté another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add chicken stock to pan until it reaches just under the paella pan handle rivets. Bring to a simmer.
  • Add green and wax beans.
  • Photography by Matt Hocking

    Photography by Matt Hocking

    Pour rice into pan from one handle to the other in a two inch wide band, coming just above the stock. (The ratio of rice to stock is 1:2.5)

  • Add the saffron and stir together to incorporate ingredients. Season to taste with salt.
  • Spread evenly across pan.
  • Cook over high heat for about 8 minutes without disturbing the pan. The rice should begin to swell.
  • Sprinkle the peas across the top of the paella and decoratively place the reserved red pepper strips and rosemary sprigs.
  • Reduce heat to low and cook 6 to 7 minutes longer.
  • Cook for a final 4-5 minutes, adjusting heat up to medium, if needed, to cook off remaining broth and allow it to crisp on the bottom.
  • Remove paella from heat and cover first in a layer of paper towels, then a kitchen towel.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Paella Marinera

Photography by Matt Hocking

Photography by Matt Hocking

Serves 6-8

Directions:

  • 8 large shrimp with heads, or 3/4 lbs peeled and deveined medium shrimp
  • 2 calamari, about 1 lb, cut in 1/2” pieces
  • 1 pound whole mussels, steamed
  • 1 tbs Spanish paprika
  • Saffron to taste
  • 1 medium tomato, grated on a box grater
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 lb frozen peas
  • 1 7 oz jar roasted red peppers
  • 8 cups seafood stock
  • 3/4 lb Bomba or Calrose rice rice
  • 3-4 sprigs thyme
  • 3/4 cups olive oil

*Bomba is a Spanish rice available online. Small and round like Arborio, however the grains remain separate without the creaminess that Arborio gives to risotto. Calrose, bred at the University of California, Davis, is a more readily available substitute found in some American grocery stores.

Jonathan and Agustin with seafood paellaDirections:

  • Pour the oil into a 6 person paella pan, about 14″ wide, set over medium heat and warm.
  • Add the calamari to pan and cook 3-4 minutes. Remove from pan.
  • Add shrimp and cook about 30 seconds per side. Remove and reserve.
  • Discard any unopened mussels. Remove half the remaining, cooked mussels from their shells. Set the rest aside, in their shells.
  • Return meat to pan and push out to sides. Add grated tomato and garlic to center of pan. Sauté 3 minutes, reducing heat if garlic begins to brown.
  • Add paprika and sauté another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add seafood stock to pan until it reaches just under the paella pan handle rivets. Bring to a simmer.
  • Pour rice into pan from one handle to the other in a two inch wide band, coming just above the stock. (The ratio of rice to stock is 1:2.5)
  • Add the saffron, along with reserved calamari and shell-less mussels, and stir together to incorporate ingredients. Season to taste with salt.
  • Spread evenly across pan.
  • Cook over high heat for about 8 minutes without disturbing the pan. The rice should begin to swell.
  • Sprinkle the peas across the top of the paella and decoratively place the roasted red pepper, thyme sprigs, reserved shrimp and mussels in shells.
  • Reduce heat to low and cook 6 to 7 minutes longer.
  • Cook for a final 4-5 minutes, adjusting heat up to medium, if needed, to cook off remaining broth and allow it to crisp on the bottom.
  • Remove paella from heat and cover first in a layer of paper towels, then a kitchen towel.
  • Let rest for 5 minutes and serve.

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2 thoughts on “Say “yes.”

    • Jonathan Bardzik Post author

      Glen, I’m not sure how I missed this post and my sincere apologies. The wax beans go in after the stock and before the rice. Thank you for catching this. I’ve corrected the recipe.