Reasons not to skimp: Best thing I’ve made in a while.

For whatever reasons, I become a cheap ass over the stupidest things. For example, I will buy foie gras from Hudson Valley Farms and during the same month think twice about buying peanut oil for deep frying because it’s “too expensive”. It makes no sense, but probably explains my wardrobe and other things that my wife and friends are too kind to point out.

This soliloquy brings me to the best thing that I have made in a long while. And had I been a cheap ass, I might have ruined the entire thing.

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Pictured is a homemade aioli made with grapeseed oil and a splash of Spanish olive oil. It totally made the dish that I am about to describe, but for some reason, more than once mind you, I nearly substituted pre-made mayonnaise. Why? Because I only needed 2 tablespoons and thought it would be wasteful to make an entire batch of aioli. After all, one cup of grape seed oil probably set me back $2!!! Never mind that I used $5 of saffron, but I hope you understand where I am going here. Not wanting to “waste” $2 worth of oil, I was willing to comprise the quality of dish that was going to cost $30 or $40. But I digress…

That brings me to the best dish I have made in a LONG time. Fideos in the style of paella. I like paella, but generally prefer jambalaya, probably because I can make jambalaya in about 45 minutes, while paella seems to take forever. This fideos dish takes just as long as paella, but for my taste is worth the effort.

Fideos are essentially chopped up vermicelli noodles. When the Moors brought pasta to Spain, the people didn’t know what to do with it, so they chopped it up and used it like rice.

This dish can be broken down into 3 parts for the mise en place. 1) make the aioli. 2) make the sofrito. 3) fry the fideos.

This aioli totally made the dish – 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, splash of champagne vinegar, dollop of Dijon mustard, good bit of ground saffron, clove of garlic, and oil. Blend everything sans the oil for about 15 seconds. Drizzle in 1/2 cup of neutral oil and about a tablespoon of EVOO until an emulsion forms. Add a pinch of salt and refrigerate until needed.

Sofrito – cook 1/2 diced onion and 1 side of a diced red bell pepper in EVOO until the onion starts to brown. Add a diced Roma tomato and a clove of minced garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and a big pinch of smoked paprika and cook until fragrant. Set aside until needed.

“Toast” the fideos – (they come as a 7 ounce package which is perfect amount) heat a 1/4 cup of oil over medium heat and add 7 oz of fideos. Stir constantly until the fideos start to brown. Drain on paper towels.

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For the dish. You will need:
1/2 lb chicken thighs cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup diced Spanish chorizo
12 mussels
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 cups chicken stock
Sofrito
Fideos
1/2 cup frozen edamame
Aioli
Saffron
Parsley for garnish
Additional 1 to 2 cloves minced garlic

Place on oven rack near the top and heat to 500 F.
Sauté the chicken in some EVOO until lightly browned. Add about 1/2 of the garlic and cook until fragrant, the. Deglaze with the wine. Cook until the liquid has almost evaporated. Set chicken aside and wipe out the pan. Heat another tablespoon of oil over medium heat and add the sofrito. Once the sofrito has warmed, add the chorizo and additional garlic and cook for about a minute. Add back the chicken and it’s juices. Add the fideos and stir to combine everything evenly. Sprinkle with saffron and add enough stock to barely cover the fideos. Bring to a simmer then transfer to the oven for 10 minutes. Add the mussels and cook another five minutes. Transfer pan to stove top. Set the mussels aside and stir in the edamame. Let mixture sit 5 minutes, then stir in 2 tablespoons of aioli. Nestle the mussels back into the fideos, sprinkle with parsley, add a pinch of salt, and serve immediately.

Jen and I could not stop eating this dish. Really good. There is plenty of toasty roasty flavor that in paella is the result of the soccarat, so this shouldn’t be total heresy to MAB.

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