Archive for the ‘Starch’ Category
Gnocchi is one of those great ingredients that you make yourself a few times and you’ll never go back to the store bought stuff. In fact the store bought stuff is fucking gross. It says chewy and never cooks properly like the cookbooks will tell you. Aside from using in a casserole I wouldn’t mess with the prepackaged stuff at all. The homemade variety, especially when fresh, is beautifully soft and light. They blend with any ingredients you toss with them and the dough melts on your tongue like any good dumpling should. Like pasta dough, there’s a little bit of a learning curve, but with the right tools and a little time it’s one of those ingredients you guests will immediately recognize as something special.
It’s worth noting that in my experience, even the homemade variety lacks that amazing delicate texture after a few days in the freezer, so try to use what you can the same day they’re made. If not, toss into a freezer bag and they should keep for 3-5 days no problem.
The first time I ever tried papas rellenas I was on a first date at a Cuban restaurant. The date started well when we agreed to share appetizers; she ordered the ceviche, I spotted the papas. After we tried each other’s dishes I exclaimed, “This must be what an orgasm wrapped in bacon tastes like!” once I tried the papas. She was not amused. I became more interested in the food. The crispy,breaded crust, soft mashed potato casing, and savory/spicy beef in the center was really blowing my hair back, while my date picked at her squid ceviche suspiciously. There was never a second date. Turns out making quasi-inappropriate food comments is a great way of screening women for me. Lesson learned.
So that’s where the inspiration for today’s post originated from. I haven’t had papas rellenas since that date so I figured I try putting the dish together myself using a few ingredients I had on hand and glancing over a few recipes online. It’s a solid dish that can be served just was an appetizer/snack or if you want to make the balls bigger and include a sauce it makes for a nice main coarse. I’m just going to cover the basic method of putting this dish together as a snack today.
I really can’t think of a time when I didn’t want to make some paella. There’s just not that many dishes that are as filling, flavorful, and satisfying as a good old fashioned paella. I’ve been lucky enough to go on a few adventures that resulted in me eating the genuine article, homemade Spanish version of this dish complete with glasses of gazpacho and lively conversation. It’s just an immensely social and gratifying dish and I can’t think of a better way of starting spring than sitting around outside with friends, drinks in hand, and tearing into a big skillet of this crispy rice wonder.
That being said, paella is very easy to make, but kinda tricky to make right. I say that because the actual process of sauteing some veg and throwing some seafood in to cook with the rice isn’t difficult; it’s basically just making a stir fry. A true paella, which it’s crispy layer of rice on the bottom (called socarrat), saffron flavored rice and variety of ingredients takes a little effort to get right. You can literally make paella a thousand different ways, there’s no solid rules on that. But in my mind a big part of the challenge behind this dish properly is getting that rice texture and flavor right.
There’s plenty of easy shortcuts to make a great paella, but the genuine article is really worth the small degree of extra effort. I’ll touch on a couple of shortcuts in the post for those that are just looking to cook a tasty dinner.