Cinco de Mayo is over now but if you still have some craving for Mexican food, here is a very special recipe for you. Created by Chef Paulina Suarez from Solario restaurant at the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, this dish is authentic to her homeland. It is very different from a Spanish paella, which you find more commonly at restaurants. The Mexican paella is cooked with parboil rice (made the day before), broth made with beer and leftover meats. It does not have saffron like the Spanish paella, is spicier and somewhat soupy. Try out the recipe for yourselves….
Arroz a la valenciana (Mexican Paella)
- 1 cup parboil rice
- 4 cups chicken stock
- 4 tomatoes
- 1/2 onion
- pinch of dry Arbol peppers
- 2 cloves garlic
- 8 mussels
- 6 cherry-stone clams
- 1/4 cup Mexican beer
- 2 links cooked chorizo
- 7 shrimp (uncooked)
- 1/2 cup frozen green peas (thawed)
- 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (thawed)
- 2 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 tablespoon butter
For the tomato broth: Blend tomatoes, onion, 1 garlic glove in a blender. Mix with the chicken stock and set aside.
For the rice: In a heavy bottom pot, heat half of the oil and butter. Add the rive and cook till it has a nice golden color. Add 2 cups of the tomato broth and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice absorb the leftover liquids.
To assemble the paella: In a large paella or saute pan, add garlic, butter and oil. Saute for 1 minute, then add clams and mussels. Add 1/4 cup beer and allows for the shells to open up. Add chorizo, rice and rest of the tomato broth. Use the peppers based on how much heat you like. Add the shrimp, corn and peas; salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and cook till the shrimp turns pink (if using raw). Garnish with sliced lime and green onions. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Having a Cinco de Mayo party at home can actually be quite fun. Whether you are hosting a few people or a large crowd, these easy to do ideas will make your event a big hit. As with any themed party, you must plan ahead of time to create the right mix of ambience, food and music. So decorate some Mexican flags, put some salsa music playing in the background and get your margarita glasses out.
Slice limes and keep some mint leaves on hand to decorate the cocktails. If you can afford to, always serve drinks in proper glasses, not disposables. Believe it or not, the presentation makes all the different in the flavor of the food!
For appetizers, serve tortilla chips with sour cream, few types of salsa, homemade guacamole, queso (melted cheese dip) and picco de gallo (salad of chopped tomatoes, onions, lettuce and cilantro).
Keep the entrée simple so that you are able to spend some quality time with your guests. Prepare a pot of yellow rice and black beans ahead of time to be served as sides. Present a make-your-own taco bar with fresh tortillas and fillings. You can have three or more options to appeal to everyone’s palate – one bowl of grilled vegetables (onions, red peppers, green peppers, tofu, etc.) for the vegetarians, second bowl of sliced cooked steak or chicken and third bowl of pre-cooked crawfish meat (available in seafood freezer section in grocery stores). Also buy readymade sauces such as a mole (if you can find it), chipotle steak sauce or a spicy seafood sauce to serve with the tacos. Serve them in nice bowls (not the original bottles) and they won’t know the difference! Refill the condiments (salsa, sour cream, etc.) as many people like to have them with their tacos as well.
For dessert, you can make a traditional flan, or upgrade to a caramel flavored cheesecake or dulce de leche gelato. Now go ahead and wear your long flowing skirts and sombreros and celebrate the rich tradition and culture of Mexico. Cheers!
- 2 ripe avocados
- 1 tomato, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, chopped
- 1 tsp. Fresh lime juice
- 2 Tsp. Cilantro, chopped
- 1 tsp. Garlic powder
- 1 tsp. Cumin powder
- salt & pepper
Peel the avocado & empty the pulp in a bowl. Chop it finely & add the rest of the ingredients. Mix well.