Food & Drink
Fall paella: Celebrating the season with a Spanish flourish
Paella is “the ideal one-dish meal, even for entertaining,” said Katie Button in Cúrate (Flatiron Books). Though it’s best cooked outdoors—in a paella pan set on the grill above a charcoal fire— a paella made over a stove can also embody the Spanish belief that cooking should be an activity that people engage in and enjoy together.
I wanted to create a paella that celebrated fall, and came up with the recipe below. It’s a “deeply satisfying” vegetarian main dish, and the only specialty items you need for it are a heavy 16- to 18-inch paella pan (I like the Pata Negras brand) and bomba—Spanish short-grain rice. Roasting the garlic adds meatlike depth to the dish’s flavors, but if you’re rushed, sauté garlic with the onions.
Recipe of the week
1 head garlic
½ oz (½ cup) dried porcini mushrooms
1 scant cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 lb mixed mushrooms, cut in 1-inch pieces
4½ tsp kosher salt
8 oz Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 acorn squash, peeled, cut in large chunks
2 small eggplants, peeled, cut in large chunks
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
1 cup dry sherry
1 tbsp pimentón
¼ tsp saffron threads
1 bay leaf
1 cup bomba or other short-grain rice
3 sprigs sage
6 sprigs thyme
Preheat oven to 325. Cut top off garlic head, then replace. Wrap head in foil; bake on a rimmed sheet until very tender, about 1 hour. Discard top; squeeze cloves into small bowl. Turn up oven to 350.
Bring porcini and 3 cups water to boil in saucepan. Cover, remove from heat, let stand 30 minutes. Drain through a sieve, pressing mushrooms to extract liquid. Reserve stock; discard porcini.
Straddle paella pan between two burners over high heat. Add 1½ tbsp oil. When oil is very hot, add fresh mushrooms in single layer; cook, turning once or twice, until browned around edges, about 5 minutes. Season with ½ tsp salt; transfer to very large bowl. Repeat with Brussels sprouts, squash, and eggplant, using 1½ tsp oil and ½ tsp salt each time.
Heat remaining oil; add onion. Cook, stirring often, until soft, about 3 minutes. Season with ½ tsp salt; add roasted garlic and tomatoes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and tomatoes begin to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Return vegetables to pan; lower heat to medium. Add sherry; cook, stirring, until liquid has almost evaporated. Stir in pimentón, saffron, bay leaf, and mushroom stock. Bring to simmer; taste for salt. Stir in rice, making sure grains are evenly distributed. Scatter sage and thyme on top.
Transfer to oven and bake 10 to 20 minutes. If rice is tender but bottom hasn’t developed crust, return to stovetop over high heat. Cook just until crust forms. Remove from heat, tent with foil, and let stand 10 minutes. Serves 6 to 8.
Beer: Three top Oktoberfests
Those poor Germans, said Spike Carter in Bloomberg.com. Each fall, when their country celebrates Oktoberfest, just six brewing firms make every beer imbibed. Here, by contrast, scores of craft brewers get into the spirit, putting out easydrinking Oktoberfestbiers that abide by custom only when the makers care to.
3 Floyds MunsterFest ($12 for a 22-oz bottle). “Floral, nutty, and toasty,” this Oktoberfestbier, or Märzen, is a “surprisingly delicate” offering from an Indiana brewery known for pushing boundaries.
Firestone Walker Oaktoberfest ($11 for a six-pack). In this “brilliantly executed” Märzen from a California brewery, imported Pilsner and Vienna malts provide “an authentic amber sweetness” to balance out a hoppy bite.
Half Acre Lager Town ($9 for a 22-oz bottle). Malt is big in Munich-style Oktoberfests, and this Chicago lager counters the grain’s sweetness with “a nicely cutting rye spiciness.”
Road trip: Beyond the Buffalo wing in upstate New York
Upstate New York is rarely thought of as being rich in culinary traditions, but “there may not be another region in the country quite like it when it comes to unique local dishes spanning generations,” said Justin Sablich in The New York Times. Consider the Buffalo wing, created in the city of the same name. And though other local delicacies— like spiedies, Cornell chicken, and sponge candy—haven’t spread coast to coast, back home they deservedly inspire a similar cult-like devotion.
Nick Tahou HotsRochester The menu line reads “Garbage Plate,” and it’s “a fitting name.” Decades ago, the founder of this hot dog joint started serving a heaping pile of hash browns, macaroni salad, chili, a second meat, onions, and mustard—and people loved it. You can get a Sloppy Plate or Trash Plate from nearby imitators, but there’s only one place for the original. 320 W. Main St., (585) 436-0184
Brooks House of BBQOneonta Unless you want to wait for summer and the next state fair, Brooks House might be the best place to try Cornell chicken—invented by the same Cornell University professor who invented chicken dogs and chicken nuggets. The key is a thin, spicy barbecue sauce that doesn’t burn instantly on a charcoal fire. 5560 State Highway 7, (607) 432-1782
Sharkey’sBinghamton In a city mad for spiedies, this family-run institution has a claim to being the birthplace of the tasty grilled meat skewers. Served at Sharkey’s since the ’40s, the spiedie takes its name from an Italian word for skewer-cooked meat. Pork or chicken cubes are marinated half to death before being roasted, and are served with a side of bread for do-it-yourself sandwich making. 56 Glenwood Ave., (607) 729-9201