Paella Fried Rice

Paella is the iconic Spanish rice dish, cooked over coals in a special broad, flat pan with shellfish, chicken, and sausage.  I have never made the real thing, but my Mom has mastered this art form.  I'll try to get my hands on a photo.  Then you'll see what big culinary shoes I have to fill.

I've featured fried rice here before, calling it the lifeboat of the leftover world. (Because it carries everything in your fridge to safety.  Duh.)  Why do I feel so much freedom lately to use ridiculous similes? I'm recovering from too many well-structured term papers, I think.  Anyway, this version of fried rice is very unorthodox and requires pretty much these ingredients to get the yum factor the photo promises.  So this one isn't the lifeboat...maybe it's the high-maintenance yacht?  This is where the boat comparisons really break down.

I normally just use a spicy smoked sausage, but this week I happened to have this beautiful chorizo my Mom gave us.  If you can get your hands on some, it transforms everything, giving the rice an orange, oily sheen and unbeatable flavor.  Fair warning, though--I haven't found it anywhere in my neighborhood (the Rainier Valley).

Yancey has entered yet another phase of training (this time only 3 weeks) before he starts at the station, and he's been coming home exhausted and famished.  He ate his big bowl and then finished Wyatt's.  Wyatt was put off by the vegetables, so he spent dinner crying in his room because I wouldn't give him something else.  Soothing mealtime soundtrack. No, I do not have that battle figured out, and I bristle when parents brag, "Oh, my Johnny eats everything!"  That might be true, but do you have to rub it in?

When I first started making this rice a few years ago, we probably had it once a week.  I've recently rediscovered it.  Though I normally encourage improvisation and substitution, paella fried rice really isn't worth eating if you can't squeeze a lemon over it.  The lemon makes everything else come alive.

And if your Johnny eats this up, give him a kiss for being such a good boy and don't tell me about it.

P.S. This would be delicious with some finely chopped preserved lemons on top, by the way.  You've got a big old jar now, Jordan.

Paella Fried Rice
(yet another recipe adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook)

1/4  c. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tb. cumin seeds
1/2 ts. red pepper flakes
1 large onion, chopped
2 chopped bell peppers (I used one yellow and one red)
8 oz. chorizo or other cured spicy sausage, diced
4 c. cold cooked rice (I used brown rice because that's what was left over.  And you cannot use hot freshly cooked rice.)
1/2 pkg. frozen baby peas
1/3 c. toasted pumpkin seeds (toast by spreading on a baking sheet and cooking at 300 for about 8 minutes)
1 c. chopped fresh cilantro
lemon wedges

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over moderate heat until hot but not smoking.  Add cumin and red pepper flakes, stirring for one minute.  Add onion and peppers and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add chorizo, increase heat to moderately high, and cook, stirring, until sausage begins to brown, about 3 minutes.

Add rice, crumbling it to break up any lumps, and salt.  Cook, stirring, until some grains of rice begin to turn golden, about 3 minutes.  Add peas and cook, stirring, just heated through.  Remove from heat and stir in most of pumpkin seeds and cilantro. Top each serving with a bit more cilantro and pumpkin seeds, and serve with lemon wedges.