I’m interrupting my travelogue of Sicily to tell you about yet another fantastic paella party I hosted on Saturday. This was our 4th annual party and my mom and I decided to take it to the next level. “I saw this interesting Garcima Paella Burner at Pata Negra,” my mom said enthusiastically. Pata Negra is our local Spanish food stuffs store and also carries every size of paella pan and accessories to throw a great paella party. I returned to the store with her and fell in love with the concept. Two propane-fueled ring burners attach to a tripod. The paella pan sits on top. No more messy charcoal! Click here to see them at La Tienda.
The knowledgeable salesman saw me eyeing the packages of squid ink or sepia, I so enjoyed in Sicilian pastas. He pointed out a sepia broth that he swore would make the BEST paella ever. How could we refuse? The black broth, from the squid ink, would turn the rice black!
I love inviting guests who are eager to try new and different foods.
Here I was, trying something totally new on my 11 guinea pig guests! The entire paella prep was reduced by half by using the sepia broth. All we did was chop one onion, sauté it in a fair amount of olive oil, add the Bomba Spanish rice, stir, then add the warmed sepia broth. I stirred in a pinch of saffron (from Palermo!) and about a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Now all that was left to do was to let it steam while we prepped the seafood to top the paella.
We tucked clams, mussels, squid ringlets with their tentacles and shrimp into the cooked rice and covered it with foil for about five minutes. Mangiamo!
I think everyone agreed, this was the best paella ever. The sepia broth delivered a richness, almost as if I had slaved all day to make the perfect fish broth using fish heads and shellfish. The unusual squid ink that colors the rice black just made the entire dish more interesting and a great conversation piece!
The paella was accompanied by a gorgeous green salad, made by my best friend Jenny, and some chunks of French bread. This was a celebration for my mom’s birthday and every year she craves Pavlova as her birthday cake. The meringue was one of the best I’ve ever made. Thick, soft marshmallow meringue with a lemon creme filling, topped with whipped cream and fresh berries. Always a crowd pleaser and all the prep can be done in advance. Assembly takes about five minutes! My advice for throwing a party – keep it simple. Limit the dishes to one hearty main, a salad, bread and dessert and involve your friends in the cooking and prepping process. Don’t forget the after dinner dance party! Ours lasted until midnight!
The next time you make paella, I hope you try it with the sepia broth. You will thank me.
“When you hear a Spanish cook describe a paella or a cake, you realize she’s using a much richer repertoire of adjectives than what one of us would use to characterize a book or an important experience.”
― Julio Cortázar, Final Exam
Ciao for now!