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Jan 18, 2008 10:44 AM

Spanish themed dinner for 10?

any ideas on dinner with a Spanish theme other than the obvioUs-TAPAS. I am looking for main courses. PLEASE NOTHING TO DIFFICULT-i WOULD LIKE TO MINGLE...

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  1. You could always make paella ahead of time.

    9 Replies
    1. re: aurora50

      ita; this is easy and I have done it for several dinner parties. Another prep ahead dish is the tortilla espagnola - potato, onion, egg cooked through and served at room temperature.

      1. re: doc_k55

        I'm thinking of doing paella for a dinner party. Can I really cook it to finish before my guests arrive? Will the shrimp and clams be OK sitting for that long? Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks.

        1. re: Angela Roberta

          I would think it would be fine, unless you have an all-night party!!! LOL
          I would probably undercook the shrimp and clams just a tad, since they will finish cooking by sitting in the paella, and you don't want them to become overcooked/rubbery. Otherwise, it should be fine.

          1. re: aurora50

            I would finish the paella to the point of putting the shrimp and clams/mussels in. They are so quick to cook, just put them in when you are almost ready to serve. Might need to add a little liquid if anything seems dry.

            I agree that Spanish tortilla mentioned above is WONDERFUL at room temp.

            1. re: gourmanda

              Thanks for the replies. I'm making the paella this weekend and have another question. How to cook the chicken? Joy of Cooking says to add cooked chicken meat (off the bone, presumably). Other recipes I've read brown the chicken, then the onion/peppers, then cook all that in liquid before adding the rice and broth. Others say brown the chicken (in small pieces, with bones presumably), then add the rice and stock.

              Any recommendations? Deboning cooked chicken meat sounds neater to serve guests.

              1. re: Angela Roberta

                It's been a while since I've made paella, but I always use bone-in chicken. It doesn't dry out as fast. I've used chicken legs, or cut up a whole chicken. I always keep the skin on, since browning it adds to the flavor.

                I agree with the comment on the fish. Add it just before you're ready to serve. It cooks quickly.

                1. re: Angela Roberta

                  When I make paella, I cut the chicken up into fairly small pieces (i.e., the breast in quarters; the wings in half) but leave the bone in. I also leave the tails on the shrimp (I know; big argument there; but I like the "handle" and the tails add a bit of flavor). I also add lobster. Paella is such a fun dish, I expect my guests to sit back, relax, and use their hands.

                  I cook the chicken first to brown it. Then I cook the chorizo, pork, and ham. Both get removed to bowls as they're finished. Then I stir fry the shrimp, squid, and lobster, and remove them to the bowl with the chicken. Next, I cook the aromatics until the onion is soft, then add the rice and stir fry for a bit. At this point I can hold the paella for as long as two or three hours.

                  After the guests have arrived, I stir in boiling broth, wine, lemon juice and peas; bury all the reserved meats and shellfish in the rice; add the clams and mussels, and bake the paella.

                  I should note that I often steam the mussels and the clams just a bit to get them started before adding them to the paella. I get fewer duds that way.

                  Because I can do nearly all the work ahead of time--and even clean up the kitchen before my guests arrive--paella is one of my very favorite party dishes. I get to present something absolutely spectacular and am still able to spend time with my guests.

                  1. re: Angela Roberta

                    I'm going to agree with the other responders. Brown the chicken in the pan (and any other meats you are using), using chicken-on-the-bone that you've cut into smaller chunks. Cook veg in the fat rendered from the chicken & meats. I often take the skin off the chicken when it comes to dish assembly - less fatty. Finish the paella in this pan. Paella is a melding of flavors - you want that for a good end product - and finishing bone-in chicken with the rice adds flavor to the end product. Skip the pre cooked stuff.

          2. re: aurora50

            Very simple but quite good is white beans with clams. It's an Asturian dish you can serve with a green salad. Penelope Casas has an easy, authentic recipe. We had this in Spain last fall and it is delicious. And much easier than paella. The tapas we got in bars (the free tapas, not the raciones you buy separate from your drink) tended to be cheese, sausage, or jamon. These would be a quite simple starter for you. Flan was ubiquitous on the menus, but one of the best desserts we got as part of the menu del dia was a pear poached in red wine.

          3. I threw a spanish themed dinner party last friday and everything worked quite nicely:
            starters--tortilla espanola, sauteed mushrooms, walnuts, olives
            starters served with amontillado sherry
            main--barley bake with a chickpea spinach strew
            Served with a Godello.
            dessert--Alice Medrich's Sherry and Olive oil pound cake served with spanish quince paste (and more amontillado!)

            1. How about dessert? You can serve cafe con leche and thick hot chocolate with churros. (you can usually find churros at a latin bakery, but they're pretty easy to make). Many nights and mornings in Spain are spent over churros dipped in chocolate!

              1. Burritos and french fries. When someone says, "Burritos are Mexican," you just hold up a french fry and say, "Oh, please, Spain is right next door to France, okay?"

                1. I had the paella dinner last Saturday. It came out well. I cooked and browned small pieces of chicken on the bone and added them to the rice and broth. I was afraid the peas, shrimp, and clams would overcook, so wanted to add them during the last 15 minutes of bake time. Maybe a good plan, but I got distracted with my guests. By the time I put the shrimp and clams in, that rice was cooked. I ended up trying to get the clams fully open by placing the whole thing on the stove top. The rice might have been a bit too soft, but I got a tasty brown crust on the bottom layer.

                  The timing plan was good. The pan was in the oven just before guests arrived. My silly mistake upset things a bit. Next time it will go that much more smoothly.

                  Thanks for all your helpful replies.