Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bucket of Trash Paella

This is kind of a weird name for this dish. I was originally going to call it something like fridge surprise, but then I thought - this dish is literally everything in my fridge that was about to go bad. So if I hadn't made this is would have been trash. However, I can guarentee it is far tastier than the name implies!

A few weeks ago I had bought an absolutely excellent cookbook, What's for Dinner by Curtis Stone. I'd like to say I bought it because I knew who he was, or because I watch Top Chef, but I'm afraid it was much more mecineary than that: it was on sale. However, after cooking a number of recipes from this cookbook, I can say that it is a fantastic! Everything I've made has turned out perfectly. 

So last week I made a Paella first time, based on a recipe in the book. I've never made anything like this before. I was a little worried, throwing everything into one pot like that, but It turned out terrific!  In Stone's book, the Paella is made with chicken drumsticks and chorizo sausage; however, what I had in my fridge was ribs and leftover bacon. Hmmm, I started to ruminate through my crisper. I realized - oh my gosh - I've got a Thai peppers, two potatoes and half an onion. I started to think, this will all taste great together, let's get out the braiser. 

I have to say that my braiser has been one of the best investment I have ever made. I have been using this thing nonstop! 

I love the fact that I can take it from the stovetop and then throw it into the oven. Plus, it's deep enough that you can add all kinds of liquid when you're cooking recipes that need broth, wine, or milk. I've used it - surprise - for doing a lot of braising, as well. I think I have tried braising every type of red meat in it over the last few months. If you're looking a versatile kitchen tool, my advice is to spend the money on a braiser. Mine is Le Crueset, which is pricey (I hunted and found it online for $250), but I have heard Staub has a nice one as well, and it is cheaper. I've found mine has almost completly replaced my regular pans. I just prefer to use it.

So first thing I did was cut up my rack into individual ribs. Then I salted and pepped each piece. While I was doing this I let 2 tablespoons of oil heat up in my braiser (use medium- high heat). Once the ribs were seasoned I put them in the braiser to brown and then removed them to a plate. Then I heated the oven to 400 Celsius, as once your done preparing the vegetables on the stove top, you'll put everything into the oven to finish cooking. 

Next I added the left over bacon (about 6 strips). I lets that cook of a minute so that the fat would release. Next I added, my 2 roughly chopped potatos, 1 whole pepper (julienned, use whatever colour you have), 1 onion finely chopped, the Thai chilli (cut length wise), and 2 cloves of garlic, mined. I cooked this up for 2 minutes to soften. Then I added 2 teaspoons of paprika and 2.5 cups of arborio rice, and tossed for a minute or two to coat with oil and juice. Finally, I added 3 cups of beef stock (if cooking chicken, use chicken stock). Then I gave everything a minute or two to cook, re-added the ribs (give them room to breathe, don't stack) and moved the braiser to the oven to cook for 30 min. 

You'll know it's done when you see that the moisture is all gone from the pan, and the rice doesn't stick. Then just give it 5-10 min to rest and dish it out. Easy as can be. 

I hope you enjoy your 'trash' as much as I did!

Bucket of Trash Paella
-1-2 rack of ribs, cut into individual pieces
-6 strips of bacon, cut into pieces
-2 potatos roughly chopped
-2 tbsp olive oil
-2 tbsp paprika (smoked if you have it)
-kosher salt & pepper to taste
-2.5 cups arborio rice
-3 cups beef stock
-1 onion chopped finely
-1 pepper julienned 
-2 cloves garlic minced
-1 Thai chilli

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