Deconstructed Paella

This past week my La Fonera wireless router arrived, and in celebration, I invited my dad over and cooked up a deconstructed paella. I wanted to make sure there was something for everyone, and with as many differing tastes as there in the household, I knew a traditional paella was out of the question.

Deconstructed Paella 01
Originally uploaded by greg.turner.
I began by making a pork roast:

  • Season the roast on each side with 1tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and a generous shake of paprika.
  • Put 2 tablespoons of olive oil and two minced garlic cloves into a skillet and heat it over medium high until the garlic begins to cook (it will become slightly translucent).
    !! Watch out !! Garlic can brown very easily, and some people think the taste becomes too strong when it does.
  • Brown the roast on each side for about 4 minutes in the skillet,
  • Then move the roast to a shallow roasting pan and into a 350 degree oven.
  • Leave it be fo @22 minutes per pound.
    (Mine was a 2.26 pound roast, so I set the time for 50 minutes)

While the pork was roasting, I set about gathering up the rest of the ingredients:

  • Scallops
  • Large shrimp
  • Chorizo sausage
  • Red bell peppers sliced into thin strips
  • Fresh green peas
  • Saffron yellow rice

I cooked the chorizo, which I'd brought pre-packaged from the local market, by following the directions on the package. I just heated the chorizo in a pan. When it was done, I wrapped it in foil and set it aside, and kept the pan over the heat, set to low.

This is crucial--you want to keep all the flavor from the chorizo in the pan you cooked it in, so don't go cleaning the pan too quickly.

Immediately following that, I cooked the rice according to the directions on the package--it's perfectly serviceable rice. If you feel like making it from scratch, I'm sure there are recipes to be found.

When the rice was finished, I moved the heat of the chorizo pan up to medium-high and quickly sauteed the red bell pepper strips and searched the scallops and shrimp--about 60 seconds on each side. Scallops and shrimp cook very quickly, and it's important that they are not over done. As equally important is to cook them in the chorizo juices! This gives even the delicate scallops a rich, earthy flavor that really combines well with their usual buttery subtleties.

Once I had cooked everything, I plated the pork and seafood in a ring on a large serving dish and piled the peppers and peas in the middle. At the table, I coupled the serving dish with a big bowl of the saffron rice, and we each got to pick and choose the ingredients we enjoyed most.

What to pair it with?
Garnacha, of course! Garnacha is the Spanish word for grenache, and it is Spain's grape of choice. My own wine of choice when it comes to this bold, spicy grape is Las Rocas, an inexpensive Spanish wine that always seems to deliver consistent results. Alas, my local wine merchant had gone through their supply of Las Rocas, so I had to settle for a Bonny Doon 2004 Clos de Gilroy California grenache. Meh. The wine was very drinkable with interesting aromas and subtle fruit, but it lacked the tannic backbone to really stand up to the succulent pork and charred, smoky shrimp.


Pan-seared salmon served with parmesan cream sauce

The general wisdom concerning sauces is go slow. Slow heat, slow mixing, and slow preparation will enable you to create smooth, delicious sauces brimming with flavor but relatively free of lumps. This weekend I thought about making a parmesan sauce to have with grilled salmon and bow-tie pasta. It worked well, and even carried over to the next morning.

Pan-seared salmon served on bow-tie pasta with capers and parmesan cream sauce


  • A medium skillet for cooking the salmon
  • A small sauce pan for the sauce
  • A large pot to cook the pasta
  • 1 salmon fillet
  • 1 box bow-tie pasta
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (approx.) parmesan cheese
  • capers
  • finely chopped chives

Set your water to boil in the large pot according to the directions on the pasta packaging--remember to liberally salt the pasta water as it will be only chance you have to season the pasta.

Next start on your sauce by making a roux

  • Melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Slowly whisk in 1 tablespoon flour, combining a little at a time. (if you dump in the whole tablespoon, your roux will end up being lumpy)
  • Into the roux, slowly mix up to 2 cups milk. Again, just a little at a time or the mixture will end up lumpy. A good whisk helps immensely.
  • Finally, slowly mix in a small handful of shredded parmesan cheese.
  • Keep the mixture warm over medium-low to low heat.

While the sauce warms, your water should be ready and you can dump in the pasta. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the box (generally dry bow-tie pasta should boil for 12 minutes)

  • Place the skillet on a burner and heat it to medium-high. Make sure it's plenty hot before you place your salmon on it to sear.
  • Liberally season the salmon with salt and pepper (and garlic, if you're a fan)
  • Place the salmon fillet in the skillet and let it sit for about two minutes carefully flip the salmon using a long, flexible spatula or a combination of wooden spoon and tongs--the salmon will begin to flake at this point, and you want to keep it together)
  • Sear on the other side about 1.5 - two minutes. If you look at the end of the fillet, you should see the salmon is transparent all the way through.

Combine the pasta and sauce and plate, divide the salmon fillet between two people, sprinkle with capers and a smattering of chives, and enjoy.

What to pair it with?

Muir Wood pinot noir 2005
Originally uploaded by greg.turner.
The strong flavors of salmon lend themselves to a wide variety of wines. And with a cooking method like pan searing, you can be assured of some of the strongest flavors possible. This dish would pair well with a number of wines, most notably a solid pinot noir. I paired it with the 2005 Muir Wood pinot noir. This wine has a light ruby color and produces distinct cherry and strawberry aromas with slight touches of citrus and evergreen. The platte produces a solid balance of fruit-forward flavors mixed with a cherry tartness from its light acidity. The tannins are fairly well-balanced and the finish is fairly long, producing light fruit flavors long after the sip has been swallowed.