It all started with a series of text messages between father and daughter. It went something this:
Daughter: The Big Game is coming, Dad!
Daughter: Are you and Mom watching at the Cal Stadium?
Daughter: Well, I’ll come to the house and watch it with you then.
Daughter: I can bring a few friends and we could all watch it together. We can order some pizza and beer.
Father: Sounds like a plan. I’m in!
And back and forth it went until such time that there were almost thirty friends who said they’d come. And then, father hatched this big hairy audacious idea:
Father to Mom: Why don’t we try out the big paella pan daughter and I gave you for Mother’s day?* It will be its baptism of fire, so to speak.
I thought, hmm. I suppose we could make a good sangria with that. Why not?
And so, daughter put it out there that there would be paella and sangria at the Big Game event.
On D-Day, daughter and some friends came a little earlier than the rest. We proceeded prepared the paella. It became a community event. I had sliced and diced ahead and so, the cooking process quite smoothly.
We started with browning the meat, taking care to brown all sides, rendering the pan with all its caramelized flavors.
After blending and patting the Sofrito down evenly on the pan, we started to spread all the goodies that would enhance the taste of the rice.
Then, we carefully spread the rice and topped it with reduced broth steeped with saffron.
All this time, the warm aroma wafting from the simmering concoction was just too hard to resist! We just had to “Ooh!” and “Ahh!” at our creation.
The rest of the time was spent waiting for the rice to cook and absorb all the flavors of the Sofrito, clams, calamari, chorizo, the meat, red pimientos, peas. (A no-scallop paella was requested. We did not want Wyatt and Robin to get sick!). This pan with its own burner was ingenious! The paella cooked in less time than my stove-top versions.
Lastly, the shrimp was laid out on top to cook just so. Daughter hates overcooked shrimp, you see.
And so, after we filled our bellies with all the goodness, we watched the game. After all, that’s what we all came for, right?
*I started with making paella on a 14-inch pan. Then, it became two 14-inch pans. This new paella pan is 24 inches in diameter and it came with its own free-standing multi-ring burner. Now, this is serious stuff!
A few words on paella:
- It’s a social event. Great way to get together, stir, drink, chat, stir some more. Preferably done outdoors.
- You can put in the paella whatever you want. Chicken, pork, beef, fish, shrimps, clams, mussels, squid, snails, octopus, lobster tails, crab claws, sausages, chorizo, jamon serrano, eggplant, zucchini, carrots, portobellos, swiss chard, kale, etc. It will influence how the rice will taste. There is no set recipe. You can do an all seafood paella, an all meat paella, a combination, a vegetarian paella. The variations abound!
- There are a few musts: The sofrito, saffron, Spanish sweet paprika, a full-bodied broth.
- Lots of sangria flowing and good company.
- Emphasis on item 4.
Postscript: We did have a token Cal Representation:
- Mixed Paella (culinaryspirits.wordpress.com)
- Paella on The Patio (Likeitiz.wordpress.com)
- Cooking With Friends (Likeitiz.wordpress.com)
- La Paella Valenciana (mw-kitchen.com)
- Sterling Defense Overwhelms Cal in Big Game, Stanford Wins 21-3 (bleacherreport.com)
- Campus Queen: Two Words (maggiemoosetracks.wordpress.com)
- Stanford vs. Cal final: Cardinal win 21-3 (bayarea.sbnation.com)