Sunday, November 8, 2009

GA/FL, Thursday: Canned Wine hits it's stride, or Paella (well, sort of)

Cheesemongers worldwide are spitting on the ground in protest. Actually, I don't think cheesemongers worldwide are reading my blog. I've realized my painfully sore neglect for the "cheesemonger" demographic. This ain't helpin'.

A beachside feast of redneck proportions. No, it's not the Franzia "Chillable Red", but the (sarcasm font) Vintner Select Merlot really had a boozy goodness that paired exquisitely with the cheddar-flavored goop, high in tasty fats. But were there Triscuits? You bet your sweet ass there were Triscuits (not pictured).

And so went beach-day Thursday. The canned wine phenomenon was in full effect, as my friends and (shamelessly- this was an experiment) myself indiscriminately consumed boxed wine from cans, allowing for maximum flailing of limbs and expressive in a standard glass simply would not weather such flamboyance. Furthermore, a gaggle of out-of-shape guys playing horseshoes on the beach with glasses of wine in hand is- needless to say- disturbing at best. We were living a secret life of class and sophistication, slipping in and out of the fraternity of unsuspecting, beer-drinking beach dwellers.

Eventually, such significant disregard for personal well-being in this manner led to a need for sustenance beyond what a singular can of cheese whiz could provide. Having in my possession a 16" Lodge cast iron camp oven, a bag of fresh-caught red snapper from a friend, and a repressed urge to create, I went to work on a paella (or sorts) for the troops:

Seafood (Sort of) Paella:

2 lbs. Linguica, Chourico, or any other spicy cured sausage, in 1/2" slices
1 T Olive Oil
2 large Yellow Onions, chopped
3 Red Bell Peppers, sliced
8 cloves Garlic, minced
3 lbs. Red Snapper filets, or any flaky white fish
Blackened Fish seasoning
8 Plum Tomatoes, seeded an pureed
1 cup Dry White Wine
32 oz. Seafood Stock
2-3 tablespoons Spanish Paprika
2 lbs. Yellow Saffron Rice
2 lbs. 20-25 Shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 dozen Littleneck Clams, scrubbed
1 cup Italian Parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

My not-so-organized mise-en-place

1) In the hot cast iron, rend the fat out of the sausage (with a little bit of olive oil)...should take about 7-8 minutes.

2) Spoon out any excessive grease. Add the onions, peppers and garlic, salt lightly, and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

4) Add the fish (which has been coated in blackening seasoning) and brown in the hot fat for a minute or so on each side.

5) Add the wine to deglaze the pan. Scrape the tasty bits off the bottom with a wooden spoon.

6) Add the stock, tomato puree, and paprika. Bring to a boil.

7) Add the rice, parsley, clams, and shrimp, return to a boil.

8) Lid the pot, kill the heat, and let the rice steam for 20-25 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE LID FOR ANY REASON!

9) Once the liquid is absorbed by the rice, fluff with a fork. Salt and Pepper to taste, and enjoy, my friends!

So, the reason I'm hesitant to call it "paella" is mostly because of the cooking technique. By nature, paellas are made with any sort of ingredients. But the namesake of the dish is based on the word for the pan itself. Usually, the rice on the bottom of the special pan is supposed to be a little burnt, creating a crunchy texture for the dish. Not having the pan handy, I improvised. Let's face it: everyone had been drinking canned wine all day. I didn't exactly get shaken down for bastardized technique.

For the wine, we thankfully put the Franzia on the shelf for a while and went with some Spanish whites:

René Barbier Catalunya Mediterranean White NV: a crisp, clean, high-acid white from the northwestern corner of Spain. Likely made from a combination of Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-Lo grapes, it citrus, mineral, and stone fruit flavors were refreshing. Oh, and it retails for about $6 (this is what I used for cooking as well)

Marqués de Cáceres 2007 Rioja: from the Rioja region of Spain (known for Tempranillo-based red wines), this white made from Viura grape (another name for Macabeo) had similar flavors, but with a little evidence of possible oak influence. The pricier of the two (barely), it retails for around $9.

Full of good food and good wine, the crowd naturally progressed to an inevitable dance party. The dance party- anchored by the funky sounds of Herbie Hancock- evolved into the "Gettin' Weird" dance off. At this point, would you expect anything less?

To gettin' weird: Cheers, Sláinte, L'Chaim, Salud, Prost, Skål, Konbe, Kampai, and Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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