Today’s high remained safely below 100 degrees and from this point forward our local climate looks to be improving each and every day. All the more reason to drink rosé. When the rest of American is downing rosé, I personally avoid the great outdoors, but by October I can’t seem to stay inside. One must not drink rosé exclusively outdoors, but it does improve the experience.
Many retailers and restaurants around town will begin to deplete their rosé offerings, but we’ve actually increased them at French Grocery. We know that many of you are like us, and are reemerging from your summer hibernation to cook over an open fire, dine al fresco, and watch a sunset - hopefully with a glass of rosé in your hand.
Below is a list of some new offerings you would not have seen if you last shopped for rosé for the 4th of July or even Labor Day. But before that, I will whet your appetite with some food talk.
My favorite meal to cook outdoors is Paella. There is little better pairing for rosé, and cooking over an open fire not only enhances the experience, but the smoke subtly improves the whole dish. Its descendent from Louisiana, Jambalaya, is a favorite version of mine from back home. I like to cook Paella with those familiar Creole spices and cured meats (andouille and tasso), but I prefer the Paella pilaf-style of rice cooked shallow over a large surface area, rather than piled high in a cauldron, which finishes sticky like Jambalaya. The result will be a blend of crispy browned rice at the bottom and fluffy rice on the top. I’ll give you a rough outline and you can fill in with your preferred spices and ingredients.
Start your fire early and preheat your great big paella pan. Brown cut-up chicken (skin-on) in olive oil with Spanish chorizo or other sausage. Remove the meat after it’s nicely browned but before it’s fully cooked. Sautee onions, celery, red bell pepper and lots of garlic in the oil and bits left in the pan. The aromas will really be getting the neighbors’ attention now.
Add rice and stir to coat each grain in the oil. There are traditional Spanish varieties, but don’t worry too much; Basmati and Jasmine are great, but any variety you have will work. Deglaze with a bit of that rosé you’re drinking and then add chicken stock or shellfish stock. It’s best if you’ve steeped some saffron in your stock ahead of time, but if not add saffron at this point. Add your meat back to the rice, bring to a light simmer, and add shrimp and mussels to the top. Green peas are traditional, and green onion and lemons make a terrific garnishment as well.
Cover, wait and drink more rosé. Serve the whole pan on the table and let your guests dig in. Bon appétit!