Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Volver Summer School: Paella

It's been a while since I've had time to post so apologies for that in case anyone has been looking.

So... last week we went to one of Chef Jose Garces' Summer School classes; this one on making paella. As you might expect from the signage above, the class was held at Volvér, his restaurant in the Kimmel Center. Like the classes at Vetri it was limited to 12 participants.

It was led by Volvér's Chef de Cuisine David Conn assisted by Chef Steve Kim of Amada. Chef Conn has been with the Garces Group from the start and during the class discussed how their approach to paella had evolved over the years.

Bocadillos - Part 1

Traditionally, a bocadillo is a sandwich served on a bread cut lengthwise rather than sliced. More recently the term has come to mean pretty much anything delivered on bread, much like the Italian crostini. At Volvér we attendees made the ingredients two: Tomato Bocadillos and Tuna Tartare Bocadillos.

Working in four teams we put together the various pieces:

  • Saffron Aioli
  • Chorizo Aioli
  • Goat Cheese Mousse
  • Guindilla Escabeche

Beth and I did the Chorizo Aioli:

Lemon Juice, Roasted Garlic, Smoked Paprika, Espelette Pepper, & Chorizo Oil

Six egg yolks whisked, and whisked, and whisked with the other ingredients. Then more whisking as we drizzled in that whole container of Chorizo Oil. The folks down at the far end making the goat cheese mousse had it easy - dump everything in the food processor and push the button!

The Paella
Preparing the Paella

Once we had the bocadillos ingredients ready Chef Conn ran down the paella process. At Amada they simplify making paella by preparing everything in advance except the rice (in the beginning they tried par-cooked rice but quickly abandoned the idea as the quality of the paella suffered). For home cooks there's probably a good couple hours of prep:
  • Make Saffron Chicken Stock
  • Poach Chicken Thighs for the Chicken Ropa
  • Prepare the Chicken Ropa Sauce
  • Finish the Ropa
  • Grill the Chorizo
  • Prepare the other Paella Ingredients

Meanwhile Chef Kim was sauteing onions and chorizo in the paella pans and quickly toasting the rice.

Wet ingredients added, he covered the pans with foils and popped 'em into the oven for about 20 minutes...

Bocadillos - Part 2

While the paella cooked we went back to assembling the bocadillos.

On the left are the cherry tomatoes with goat cheese mousse; they're topped off with a picnch of chopped, toasted Marcona almonds. On the right is the tuna tartare in Guandilla Escabeche. Those should have been topped with the Chorizo Aioli, but after the first one, I decided it was too spicy for me. Turns out I didn't have to worry about getting enough - they provided 2 or 3 times as much as was strictly needed. But you know what mom always said: "Don't fill up on bread!"

By the time we got through the bocadillos and a couple glasses of wine the paella was ready:

The finished paella included roast chicken breast, bread (or toast) slathered with that Saffron Aioli and a simple herb salad to cut the richness of the paella. We finally sat down to drink some more wine and devour the paella. Even with 12 hungry paella fans there was enough for seconds if you wanted them.

We've been going to these cooking classes for a couple years now (you can check out my review of the Vetri Pizza class back on the old blog). They're always interesting and fun and the always-late SEPTA night trains help metabolize the free-flowing wine.

This was a terrific class on an intimidating topic. We're both looking forward to next year's series.

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