February 28, 2011
When is a Paella Not Really a Paella?
By David Draper
This may be a picture of a paella I made the other night, although the purists among you would argue that no, it is not. You see, paella is dish Spanish in origin that traditionally calls for, among a host of other things, paprika. And paprika, I discovered in the middle of preparing it, was something I did not have on hand. The most confounding thing is, I did have the other, and most, essential ingredient in my cupboard.
Saffron – a spice so expensive it requires a small personal loan to purchase just a pinch of it, is a luxury my meager salary doesn’t typically allow me. However, to do paella right, you have to have it, so I made a special trip to town to pick it up, along with a couple of peppers, which I was also lacking. Had I been smart enough to consult my spice rack before my shopping trip, I would have realized the last of the paprika had been used on a batch of deviled eggs awhile back and never replaced. So I found myself elbow deep in rice and stock with none of the smoky spice within reach.
So, while this may not be a traditional paella, it did help clear my freezer of a limit of doves from September, the last of October’s duck breasts and one deer steak. And despite its lacking a crucial ingredient, it was still edible. I don’t want the name of this dish should be, so I’ll just call it good.
*My attempt loosely followed the Texas Hill Country Paella recipe from original Wild Chef Jonathan Miles as printed in the December, 2006, edition of Field & Stream.