Cultural Experiences Kitchen Stories

It’s a Process, Part 3

Meanwhile, after finishing the aioli, I am on to my next task as sous chef, making a quick chicken stock.

When you don’t have hours to make a stock (and who does), what do you do? You grab a bottle of Knorr® Professional Liquid Concentrated Chicken Base, and add it to hot water. I call it liquid chicken, even though that’s usually the term for eggs. *

Over on the stove, Chef Husband has rice going into the seasoned paella pan. Typically for a paella you would use a short-grain Spanish rice, such as bomba or calasparra, and it would be cooked til it’s somewhat crispy on the bottom. Nevertheless, we have arborio rice n hand and Chef Husband is going to prepare it creamy risotto style. A couple months back, we touched on how to cook arborio rice, with a method that requires continuously tending to the rice, and that same technique is going to be used here. **

Chef Husband starts with browning the rice, this time using half clarified butter and half olive oil. Once the rice is slightly amber in color, the stock is repeatedly ladled in, just enough to cover the rice, and then allowed to reduce. My first batch of stock wasn’t enough, and it was a little weak in flavor, so I made a second batch that was a bit stronger, to compensate. My takeaway, you could follow the recommended ratio on the back of the bottle, or you can go by what tastes best, but beware of over-salting with a base, especially if many of the upcoming ingredients have higher sodium content.

Once the rice is al dente, the unique seasonings for this dish are added, gumbo filé and saffron threads, bringing a lot of color and fragrance. And finally an adequate amount of heavy cream is poured in, enough to coat the rice completely, followed by a few handfuls of grated fresh Parmesan cheese. After a little more time on the stove, we’re looking at cheesy creamy goodness. ***

So now our paella, already heading in a Cajun direction with the Andouille sausage, has a creamy risotto base. Chef Husband may be on to something new here. Shall we call it a Cajun Pae-Sotto?

Notes from Chef Husband

* Basically, there are many types of chicken base/flavorings, ranging from a simple chicken boullion to the Knorr® product recommended above. Like anything else, you  get what you pay for, the more chicken, the more flavor. I would simply recommend a product that has salt listed in the ingredients no higher in volume than third.

** Slowly adding the stock, as it both absorbs into the rice and evaporates, allows the starch to become a creamy consistency.

*** Many different cheeses would work good in the adaption of this recipe, such as Feta, Oaxaca and Mizithra. Just be careful of the final salt content of the dish.

To be continued…
Our final post in this series is right around the corner.