While tasting (see my tasting notes here) and learning about Arínzano wines last month with #winestudio, the regional dish of Paella came immediately to mind. Arínzano’s red wines are made mainly with Spain’s most popular red wine grape Tempranillo. The Old World tradition of pairing regional foods to the wines produced in the same region, is a classic guide to food and wine pairings. Paella has been a favorite dish in my house for a long time. My first introduction was when a caterer suggested Paella for an outdoor wine dinner when I worked in the wine industry. Vacationing in Spain give me a first hand taste of authentic Spanish Paella. Last summer, my farmers market (Morningside Farmers Market) featured a Chicken and Eggplant Paella demo by Cook’s Warehouse using fresh market ingredients. This is the Paella recipe I have made again and again and the dish I thought of when learning about Navarro, where Arínzano is located. (Check out the article in Condé Nast Traveler: Navarro Spain’s Next Great Food Scene). The article cites Navarro as dishing out “vegetable-centric plates” and this Paella recipe features fresh farmers market vegetables, which of course you can vary in the recipe depending on what vegetables are in season. Paella also makes the perfect WOW dish for entertaining, the presentation is stunning. Ingredients can be chopped ahead of time and the cooking goes relatively quick. Paella can be made over a fire pit, grill, stove or in the oven. The outdoor options will only enhance the Paella’s smoky flavors.
Chicken Eggplant Paella
- 2 lb . eggplants , (if using larger eggplants cut about 5 rounds 1/4 inch thick or about 15 rounds if using smaller eggplants) keep the skin on, cut the remaining eggplants into 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
- 8 garlic cloves , minced
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron , crumbled
- 4 tablespoons parsley + more for garnish , chopped
- 7 oz dried Chorizo , slice thin into rounds and cut in half
- 2 lbs . chicken breast , cut into 1 inch size pieces
- 10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 5-6 cups chicken broth , bring to a simmer and cover
- 2 medium onions , finely chopped
- 4 small/medium size red bell peppers , cut into 1/2 inch strips
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large tomatoes , chopped
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 3 cups of Calasparra rice or Arborio rice or I used Carolina Plantation Charleston Gold rice
- Place eggplant slices and cubes in a colander, sprinkle with salt and drain for 20 minutes.
- In a mini food processor, combine garlic, saffron, and parsley. Pulse to make a paste. Set aside.
- Insure that the Paella pan (15-17") will fit into the oven and preheat oven to 425 F.
- Dry the eggplant with paper towels. On a parchment lined baking sheet arrange the eggplant in a single layer. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with some freshly ground black pepper. Bake for about 20-30 minutes or until tender. Remove to a plate and set aside.
- In the Paella pan, heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat, add the chicken pieces and sauté just until chicken is no longer pink. (chicken should not be fully cooked). Reserve chicken to a platter and cover with foil.
- Add more olive oil if Paella pan is too dry, add the onion, red peppers, thyme, and bay leaves. Cook over medium high heat until tender.
- Add the tomatoes and increase heat to high until liquid has evaporated. Add the wine and reduce until almost no liquid remains.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and add the eggplant cubes and Chorizo slices, stirring cook for about 2 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
- Add the rice and stir well to coat rice and combine ingredients.
- Add the hot chicken broth and saffron mixture and bring to a boil. Adjust for salt.
- Stir and continue to boil until the rice mixture is no longer soupy, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the chicken pieces and arrange eggplant slices over the rice. Do not stir at this point. Cover with foil and cook until rice is al dente about 15-20 minutes. Or, bake in oven uncovered for about 15-20 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let rest for 5-10 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley.
The wine samples were provided by Gregory White PR as part of #winestudio, an educational program organized by Tina Morey. Join the #winestudio conversation Tuesday at 9pm EDT on Twitter.