Sunday, August 23, 2009

Dinner w/Friends :: Spanish Lamb & Eggplant Paella

Last year, my parents gave A. a large paella pan for his birthday. Along with the pan, came the recipe to my father's deliciously wonderful seafood paella!  We've been making seafood paella all year to much satisfaction, but this morning A. woke up and said he wanted to attempt a lamb paella.

I love lamb!  So I happily went along with the idea and we invited our neighbors - M. & G. along with their dog Lola, and our friends S. and L., over for dinner.  We spent the rest of the day walking around the neighborhood getting all of the supplies ready.

...The arroz bomba (rice) from Citarella, the saffron from Gourmet Garage, the veggies from Chelsea Market, and the wine from Le Du on Washington St.  

I love the amount of work that goes into a paella, it makes it taste that much better in the end. But don't be scared or hesitant to try it for yourself. Believe me - our kitchen is 6x7!  With a little prep this makes the perfect meal for when you are entertaining.   You don't have to start the cooking till your guests arrive, and everybody enjoys getting a sneak peak of how its going along.  Clean up is easy since it is all in one pan!  You can even cut this recipe in half, or even a third, and make a small paella for 2 in a large cast iron skillet if you don't have a paella pan.

A. does all of the chopping and marinating in the afternoon and then puts everything in little plastic bags ready to go, even the measured out amounts of spice.  When guests arrive, all you have to do is turn on the stove, and start cooking!

LAMB & EGGPLANT PAELLA (adapted from "Paella!" by Penelope Casas) Serves 8
1 pound eggplant (1/2 inch cubes, skin on) + 1 eggplant sliced.
8 cups chicken broth (if using a store bought broth, add a bit of celery, onion, cilantro and pepper and bring to a boil before using...even chicken pieces if you have some handy)
1/4 tsp saffron threads
8 + 2 tbsp olive oil, separated
2 pounds boneless leg of lamb (cubed)
Juice of one lime
3/4  tsp cayenne pepper
1 + 1/2 tsp ground cumin, separated
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
8 + 3 cloves garlic, minced, and separated
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp oregano
4 cups Spanish Rice (Arroz Bomba)
1 cup green peas (defrost if you are using the frozen kind)
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Season the lamb with 2 tbsp of olive oil, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp cumin, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and salt.  Allow to marinate for at least 1 hour in the fridge.  Season Eggplant with salt and allow to sit for 20 minutes.

Add the saffron the the broth and bring to a boil.  Allow to sit over low heat.

Heat the olive oil in the paella pan, over medium/high heat.  Take the lamb out of the fridge and pat each piece dry w/paper towels.  You want to make sure to remove excess liquid from the lamb pieces, else they will not brown.  Quickly saute the lamb until you have an outer crust (in should not be fully cooked).  Remove the lamb from the pan and set aside.  Add the onion, peppers, and garlic to the the pan and saute until softened.   Add the eggplant pieces and saute for 1 minute.  Then add the tomato, parsley, oregano and cumin.  Stir occasionally and let cook until the liquids have evaporated.  Stir in the rice, and mix all ingredients in the pan until rice is coated with the mixture.

Add the broth, and taste for salt.  Boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  You can now add the lamb back into the pan, and allow it to continue to boil until the broth has been absorbed by the rice (roughly 10 minutes).  Cover the pan with aluminum foil and continue to cook over low heat until rice is al dente, time will vary but allow about 20 minutes.  Add peas.

When the rice is ready, remove from heat and let rest for 5-10 minutes.  Use the final eggplant slices to decorate.  Sprinkle with cilantro, and serve w/slices of lime! 


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