Friday, June 13, 2008

Disappointing Paella


not quite paella, originally uploaded by mysterybridgers.

Every now and then we make a dud. It is really rare and we are both very disappointed when it happens. This recipe had great potential and started really good, but somewhere in the cooking process something went horribly wrong.

I think the first mistake was that this is a slow cooker recipe. I'm pretty sure paella should never be cooked in a slow cooker. We have a slow cooker and rarely use it so we bought Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson (the same author of the Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes cookbook). Then the book sat around for several months. Then we made some killer chili in the slow cooker using a recipe from the book. Then we decided to make another slow cooker recipe and this one just did not turn out.

This vegetarian paella recipe called for a ton of ingredients. It called for stock so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to use the shiitake bottoms and all manner of fresh onion ends we had in the freezer. The stock turned out great. We added it to the pot with all of the ingredients including onion lightly browned in a pan, a green bell pepper, artichoke hearts, saffron, kidney beans, bay leaves and other stuff. It tasted fantastic all mixed together. Then it cooked in the slow cooker for 4 hours, making the apartment smell fantastic all day. After 4 hours we added the rice and cooked for another hour. This was perhaps another mistake since the rice was a strange new rice I wanted to try called baby basmati and I don't think that it needed to cook for an hour. Then at the end we added oyster mushrooms that were browned in a pan and some frozen peas (which I do believe might have been freezer burnt). We decided not to add the vegetarian sausage to the pot, but instead grill it on the stove and have it alongside. The vegetarian sausage was actually pretty good.

When we tasted the finished paella, it pretty much tasted like nothing (except for the oyster mushrooms, which tasted great). No amount of salt or mixing it with the sausage helped (although we never did try the suggested lemon juice, which might have helped a little). We still wonder where all of the flavor went. How can all the stuff taste good on the way in and then 4 hours later taste like nothing? Perhaps that artichokes and green peppers conspired together to make everything taste like tap water. Who knows. The worst part is that we had a ton of this stuff. We tried to save it by making some sort of paella patty coated with bread crumbs and browned in a pan, but these were also bland and unsatisfying. So we had to accept our loss and throw away the rest of the paella.

I guess one loss out of hundreds is not so bad. The slow cooker is back under the sink for a while and probably will not come out again except to make chili or something else that won't be damaged by cooking for so long.

1 comment:

Vegan Planet said...

I'm so sorry my paella recipe didn't work out for you. Rice dishes can be tricky in a slow cooker, so you may be onto something about the rice part. I actually haven't made that recipe since doing the original recipe testing but I recall it turning out well. I'm tempted to make it again soon to figure out what went wrong for you. If I come up with anything, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I hope you won't give up on using the slow cooker. I cook with mine a lot, but I admit making chili in it is still my all time favorite!