Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tales of the Magic Pan – Mushroom Paella

I wasn’t really looking to get entangled with another frying pan.

At the risk of appearing to blame yet another impulse purchase of mine on my mother, I probably wouldn’t have considered it, if Mom had not mentioned the big sale. But, it barely takes a nudge for me to buy another kitchen item. No willpower.

The minute I laid eyes on it, there was no mistaking the magic. The brilliant fire-engine-red chassis was thrilling and the sleek, aerodynamic styling exhilarating. Hey – some guys survive middle age on car fantasies – for me, it’s all about the kitchen equipment.

Who would have suspected such a spark with a pan that has such a conventional, almost old-fashioned reputation? Put aside all pre-conceived notions. To put it bluntly, this cast iron frying pan is really hot. Sizzling, in fact. We’ve now been seeing each other for several weeks, and I may actually be considering a long term commitment. No more brief flirtations with non-stick and the like. This could actually be the real thing.

Our first date...well, it was like it was meant to be. We were spellbound kids, discovering each other over bewitching paella, flavored with earthy mushrooms and sensual saffron:

Mushroom Paella (Adapted from “The Best Recipes in the World” by Mark Bittman)

(Three Servings)

¼ cup dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Three boneless, skinless chicken thighs
½ yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ pound portabella mushrooms, chopped
¼ pound chorizo sausage, sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
¼ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup Arborio rice
1 ½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
Pinch of saffron threads
Salt and pepper, seasoned to taste

Cover the dried mushrooms in hot water and soak. Heat oil in an alluring 10-inch cast iron skillet. Add chicken thighs and cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Split chicken into small pieces.

Add onion and sauté about 5 minutes. Add garlic and bay leaf and cook 1 more minute. Drain porcini mushrooms and add along with portabella mushrooms. Cook until liquid begins to appear. Add chorizo and paprika and cook for 30 seconds. Add wine and reduce for about 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the rice in an even layer. Cover with stock and saffron and season with salt. When the stock begins to boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

Can a confirmed bachelor chef find true happiness with the most traditional of frying pans? Stay tuned for the continuing story at “Tales of the Magic Pan,” with a nightly encore performance on SOAPnet.

©2009 T.W. Barritt All Rights Reserved


La Cuisine d'Helene said...

What a beautiful color.

Kathy said...

Gorgeous pan T.W. That food looks pretty good too!

Anonymous said...

That IS a beautiful pan!

Anonymous said...

And a great love affair has started ;). I don't blame you that frying pan is a beaute! And it looks like it makes beautiful paella too!

Anonymous said...

I love my cast iron frying pans, and use them practically everyday. Mine don't that fire-engine red coating though. Can you still cook on high a heat without damaging the pan?


Nazarina A said...

Even though I like the fire engine red pan, I love the look of your Paella more.

~~louise~~ said...

I'm delighted you have purchased a new "voluptuous" piece T.W.

Now, behave yourself while indulging in the fruit of your combined behavior lest the “Tales of the Magic Pan, may be spawning more than Mushroom Paella! (which by the way looks quite alluring:)

Cakespy said...

Oh, those magical mushrooms! It's a great pan, and it looks like you're already doing some great things with it!

Lori Lynn said...

The paella recipe sounds awesome. I have a favorite pan too, my Le Creuset Tart Tatin pan, and I know exactly what you mean! And it's RED!