Weekend Part 1: Olives, Paella, Granita & Wine

This weekend, as many of you know, Mr. K came to visit from the beautiful fall weather Chicagoland.  He got in late Friday night, so after catching up and hanging out, we hit the hay.

Saturday morning we slept in a bit, and then started the day with fried eggs & Orowheat whole wheat english muffins with Lite Smart Balance.  Hit the spot.

Then we headed out for a few errands I needed to make, and to get the ingredients for Mr. K’s paella that he has raved about over the past month or so from Whole Paycheck, a 12-inch skillet with metal handle to make the paella from Bed, Bath & Beyond, and a few organizational items from Target Boutique.

Once we got back, we indulged in amazing sandwiches from Zocoli’s Delicatessen.  I had a BLT, light on the mayo + avocado on whole wheat.

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We were looking for a quick lunch, and so I used my phone to Yelp deli’s in the area.  Zocoli’s had the best rating, and it definitely did not disappoint.  Even for a regular BLT, the flavor was incredible.  Mr. K had the Hawaiin Chicken sandwich, and he said it was absolutely delicious.  (We also split a pickle.)

Then we took a two hour nap and then a 1.5 mile walk around the neighborhood.  Then we started the cooking adventure…Well, Mr. K embarked on that adventure, I mostly just drank wine and ate olives 🙂

For the paella, we preheated the oven to 450, and then Mr. K chopped up a large white onion and four garlic cloves.

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While doing this he heated the stock & a pinch of saffron on the stove over medium heat.  Then, he heated up some olive oil in the 12” skillet (with metal handle: this is IMPORTANT because we later put the skillet in the oven) and started to fry the two chicken thighs.

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After browning the thighs, he added the chopped onions & garlic.

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stir.

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stir.

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calm.

He sautéed the mix until the onions were sweaty.   Then he added the white wine (we used Vihno Verde since that was what we opted to indulge in for dinner), tomato paste, paprika, salt & pepper and the chorizo, and brought it to a boil.

After a few minutes, the rice and let it sweat for a minute before adding in the stock.  After a few more minutes it was ready for the oven.

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Then, while paella was in the oven for about 20 minutes, we we indulged in Greek olives we had picked up with from Whole Foods and a glass of wine from the Vihno Verde we had used for the paella.

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I am a true lover and believer in all things Vihno Verde.  I have honestly have yet to have one that has truly disappointed me.  And this one, this one was absolutely amazing.  The flavors were so crisp and refreshing, and it paired great with the olives…and then the paella.

Also while the paella was cooking, we started on some mango granita for dessert.  All that was involved was pureeing the fruit from 2 large mangos, making simple syrup on the stove.  Then we added the two together for taste, a splash of the Vihno Verde and put in the freezer.

Mango before:

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Mango granita after:

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When the paella was finally done we took it out of the oven…

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My portion

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(I totally went back for more.)

The verdict?  This recipe definitely lived up to Mr. K’s hype for it.  He, with the guidance of dear chef Bittman (How to Cook Everything), has definitely created an amazing meal.  The flavors were intense, and the blend of chicken thighs, onion, garlic, chorizo and tomato paste with the paprika and of course, saffron, was absolutely incredible.  I will definitely be making this again…and again…and again.

Then dessert was the mango granita.

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Also delicious, as I love mango and sorbet-esque things.  But the winner of the evening?  Paella (followed closely by the wine).

Thank you Mr. K for an AMAZING meal.  It was truly phenomenal (though part of that may be because I didn’t have to cook ;))

Then we headed out to the bar to meet up with some of the friends I’ve made in the program.  It was nice to have Mr. K meet a few of the people I talk about in phone conversations and introduce him to my life in Santa Cruz.

Since you’re probably wondering…

Chicken & Chorizo Paella (6-8 servings)

  • 3 cups chicken/veggie stock
  • pinch of saffron
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 chicken thighs
  • 1 chopped onion (yellow/vidalia)
  • 4-5 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup white wine (we used a Vihno Verde)
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 8 oz chorizo (we bought un-cased chorizo, but cased would work as well..just chop it up)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 2 cups arborio rice

Preheat oven to 450.  On the stove, mildly heat 3 cups stock & saffron in a pot.  While heating the stock, heat 3 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet (we used a 12” in skillet with a metal handle: the metal handle is very important because you put this in the oven!!!).  Once heated, add the chicken thighs and cook until deep brown on both sides (med/high heat). 

Then add chopped onion and garlic to the chicken until they are sweating.  Once sweating, add white wine, tomato paste, paprika, salt & pepper & chorizo.  Bring it to a boil for a few minutes.  Then add in the rice to the skillet and sweat it for a minute and then add in the stock (which has been heating in the pot). 

After heating for a few more minutes, put the skillet into the preheated oven for about 20 minutes (or until the fluid has completely soaked in).  Then turn off the oven and let the skillet sit in the oven for 5-15 minutes.  Optional: heat on the stove on high for a few minutes (1-3) or until it begins to crisp.

Enjoy.  No, seriously.  Enjoy.

The mango granita recipe…is forthcoming.

Hope you all had a great weekend & Monday!  I’m off to study and get some rest.  The marathon is in 6 days – I can’t believe it!!

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