Spanish Mushroom and Sausage Fideua...using Nordic Ware Chef's Braiser Pan. I am sure many of you are quite familiar with the Spanish dish called paella. When I received a sample paella pan/brasier pan from the really nice folks at Nordic Ware, I knew I wanted to sort of step away a bit from the well-known paella... and make a similar dish called Fideua. I first found out about paella's not so well-known "cousin" shortly after I came home from a trip to Spain. I had bought a cookbook in Spain entitled, The Best 100 Tapas. When I got home, I got a chance to "study" the book more intently instead of just leafing through it. There were many great recipes in the cookbook, but one in particular stood out... a recipe for Seafood Fideua or Fish Stew, as it was translated. I was quite intrigued with it. The ingredients and procedure was very similar to the traditional paella....only in this case, the rice was substituted with thin pasta noodles. While in Spain, my husband and I tried the paella, but the fideua just never got the chance....I sure wished I had known about it then. I loved the variation and was very eager to try it at home. And since Nordic Ware provided me with a paella/braiser pan to test, I was thrilled to try out both the pan and the recipe.
The Nordic Ware Chef's Braiser Pan performed as expected. It heats up rather quickly and even has a non-stick interior as well. The steel chrome handles come in handy when using it in the oven. Because it is oven-proof, you can start the dish on the stovetop and then finish it off in the oven. It is also big enough. The pan is 14 inches in diameter, so it can be used to make larger quantities, if need be. The pan is not only great for making the traditional paella, but you can also make stir-fries, oven pancakes... and in this case, fideua.
Now fideua is more commonly made using seafood, but I opted to make it using ingredients I had at home... chicken garlic sausages and mushrooms. You can easily vary the fideua, by using seafood and substituting the chicken stock with shrimp or fish stock. And if you want to go vegetarian, opt for making it using vegetables you like, such as chunks of yellow squash/zucchini, mushrooms, bell peppers, peas, green beans, leeks, cabbage, and use some vegetable stock. You will just be making a fideua de verduras. Actually, I just might try that next time:)...
For this recipe, I ended up using what I had. But the fideua can easily be adapted according to preference. Since I had some spicy smoked paprika and some saffron I had bought from Spain, I ended up using them in the dish. But if you do not have them, you can easily use regular smoked paprika or even regular sweet paprika and add a touch of cayenne. As for the saffron, you can skip it altogether.
There are many versions of the fideua... How the dish actually came about... well, there are many theories. But most believe the dish originated in the 1960's in the city of Gandia, which is part of the Valenician community. You might find that the fideua can vary... depending on the region. Some regions use the thicker noodles that have holes in them... and actually do not fry the pasta. Other regions(Catalonia) use the very thin vermicelli noodles... which they fry. Some recipes use a bit of garlic alioli to top the fideua and others do not. I chose to skip it this time around, though I think it would be a wonderful addition. We rather liked the thin fried noodle version and enjoyed the dish very much. I look forward to trying a vegetarian version, as well as a seafood version. So, if you've never tried fideua, you might want to give it a try. Hope you enjoy...
You will need: inspired by my Spanish cookbook, "The Best 100 Tapas" and Epicurious (who actually makes the directions much simpler than I have:))
2 tablespoons olive oil(plus a drizzle)
1/2 onion, chopped ( you could use 1 whole onion)
1 large bell pepper, diced( I used orange, but green is more traditional)
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon teaspoon hot smoked paprika ( you could use regular and add a pinch of cayenne)
1 tsp sweet paprika
8 oz mushrooms, quartered
2-3 links garlic chicken sausage(or Spanish chorizo/ kielbasa), cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
3 cups homemade chicken broth( you can use low salt store-bought)
pinch of saffron
10-12 oz fideo/angel hair pasta/capellini or any thin pasta(broken in 2-3 inches)
Optional Toppings: which I skipped this time around
Preheat oven to 400°F. ...get pan and ingredients ready.
Heat 1 TBS olive oil in heavy deep paella pan skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook until tender, stirring frequently, about 5-8 minutes. Depending how salty your chicken broth is...you may or may not need to season with salt. I added a small pinch of kosher salt, since I used my own homemade chicken stock which isn't on the salty side. Add paprika and cook for an additional minute or so. Remove and set aside.
Cook mushrooms and sausages:
While the onion, pepper, and garlic are cooking, saute mushrooms on medium heat in a separate skillet along with a drizzle of olive oil. Season a bit with salt. When mushrooms take a golden color ( about 3-4 minutes on medium high heat) add sliced sausages and stir until the sausages brown a bit. Remove and set aside. De- glaze pan with 1/2 cup of wine ( you could also use stock).
Heat paella pan on medium heat add about 1 TBS of oil. Add broken pasta and toast until golden brown...being careful not to burn. Add sauteed vegetables, chicken broth mixed with crumbled saffron, and wine with de-glazed browned bits. Stir to combine. Top with diced tomatoes, mushrooms and sausage....bringing some of the pasta on top. Bring mixture to simmer.
Cook and bake fideua:
Cook until pasta is almost tender, stirring just occasionally, about 8 minutes. I don't stir it too much... just sort of push the dried pasta on top towards the bottom so that it can soak up a bit broth and cook as well. You still want to have a bit of liquid left before placing it in the oven. If you find the pasta is too dry you can opt to add a bit more broth...but being careful not to add to much or the pasta will swell too much and become too starchy and clumpy.
Set pan in oven and bake until all liquid is absorbed....about 25 minutes. The pasta should form a crusty top....but be soft on the inside.
Sprinkle with parsley and if desired a dollop of garlic alioli.