Friday, June 25, 2010

The Horror of a Magazine Recipe

During a recent visit to my Mom's she gave us a couple magazines that she was finished with.
One was a cooking magazine and reading the cover got me a little excited: Step by Step to Authentic Paella.
I don't know what it is about paella. I've never cooked it, never even eaten it. But any dish with paella's ingredients just has to be wonderful and I'm absolutely fascinated by it. I imagine I'll have to try making it pretty soon.
You'll notice that I haven't mentioned the name of the magazine. There's a reason for that.
Reading the article I saw a section on "making the shrimp-mussel broth." In this section the shrimp shells and some mussels are used to make... you guessed it... a broth. Here's an excerpt: 
Add the remaining mussels to the boiling water. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the broth into a 2-quart liquid measure, discarding the shells and mussels.
Wait... do what? Discard the mussels?
I was horrified!
Mussels aren't cheap and I'm supposed to throw these away? This author is nuts!
I do my best to not waste food. If I've got chopped pieces of something in a container so I can introduce them into a pan, they all go in. There isn't a chunk of carrot or sliver of chicken thigh that gets washed down the drain. To simply throw these mussels away with callous abandon is a sin against Mother Nature and goes completely against my principles (and wallet).
You want a seafood-type stock or broth for the dish, use fish scraps. Don't have any? Get some clam juice and make it work. But don't waste food.
You want a good recipe for paella? Don't get it from this magazine. Get it from a site like The Spanish Table. While you're there check out their paella pans. I'm lusting after one of their carbon steel models.
You know what would be even better? Make up your own recipe. Take a look at a recipe like the one linked above and then have fun from there. Paella is a country dish that should use what you've got available. Have clams but not mussels? Ok! Have rabbit but not a shred of chicken? Ok!
Sorry, Nike. I have to do this...
Just make it!


Lady Arwen of the Silver Rose said...

At the price of seafood they must be daft.

Guy Taylor said...

Personally, I think the author got carried away with making what she thinks is a perfect dish and forgot the simple and rustic roots of paella, as well as the slim pocketbooks of many of her readers.
I doubt there is a Spanish grandmother out there who wouldn't whack this author on the head with a wooden spoon for throwing away the mussels.

Anonymous said...

You've GOT to read "The Gallery of Regrettable Foods by James Lileks to see recipes that will bring shudders of horror---plus laughs! The guy pulls recipes from all those "Nifty Fifties" cookbooks. He has a website, too:

Enjoy! So to speak...

Guy Taylor said...

Hah!! That is a great website! The guy is a comic genius. It's going to take me hours to get through everything.
Better than Farmville though, right??

Anonymous said...

My mom had some of those Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks that Lileks rightfully pokes fun at. The worst of them showed a huge unsliced roll of bologna on a rotisserie skewer on a barbeque. It turns your stomach just to look at it. It looks like a gigantic vienna sausage impaled on a spit by some Vlad the Impaler wanna-be. And to think, people once thought that appetizing. But, this was also an era that they were doing atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in Nevada. All that radioactive fallout had to have some effect on the nervous system. That would also explain the Pet Rock, later on. Delayed effects, or perhaps cumulative.