Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Paella revisited

Last night I served Paella at a Sheva Brachot we hosted at our home. I love to serve it at buffets, it is a surefirer crowd pleaser. The raves I always get for this dish, including from diners who don't (or used not to) keep kosher, bear out my firm belief: the success of the dish does not depend on the simultaneous presence of fish and meat or poultry (a no-no in kosher cooking), but on a mixture called Sofrito, which gets sautéed in a little olive oil and disperses in the dish in lovely green and red specks. If you find nice lean sausages and want to include them in the dish, add them at the same time you add the rice.
Makes 8 servings.

1 medium onion, quartered
2 ribs celery, peeled and cut in thirds
4 large cloves garlic
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 small bunch cilantro, stems discarded
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in chunks

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes

3 cup tiny capers
2 cup sliced green pitted olives
2 teaspoon cayenne, or more to taste
good pinch ground cloves
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon paprika
generous pinch saffron
salt and pepper to taste
8 portions chicken, dark and white meat, or all dark
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups basmati rice
1cup frozen corn kernels, optional

Make Sofrito: Coarsely grind in a food processor the onion, celery, garlic, parsley, cilantro and red pepper (pulse: do not let mixture get watery). This mixture is your Sofrito.

Heat the oil in a heavy pot, and add the Sofrito. Sauté until translucent. Add the tomatoes, and cook until only 1/2 cup of liquid remains in the pot. Add the capers, olives, cayenne, cloves, bay leaves, paprika, saffron, salt, pepper, chicken and wine, and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Add the rice, and cook for 15 more minutes. Add the corn, and cook for 5 more minutes, until the rice and chicken are tender. Serve hot.

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