Paella | 2009 Mesa Cabernet Sauvignon (December 2013)
Our 2009 Mesa Cabernet Sauvignon has notes of habenero which we decided to experiment with in a food pairing. Craving Paella, we searched the web, and used the Vegetable Paella recipe from Food Network as a base and then expanded to our flavor preferences. We used Hungarian sweet & spicy paprika, but may try smoked Spanish paprika (Pimentón de la Vera) & Allepo pepper next time.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and once heated roast the red and sweet peppers. Chop the tomatoes in half, remove the hard stemmed portion at the top and cut into 8 wedges each. Place the tomatoes in a medium bowl, season with salt, drizzle with olive oil and set aside.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large flat pan (or paella pan, we used a flat hard-anodized aluminum pan) over medium heat. Add the onion, chopped garlic, paprika, saffron, and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes.
Add the fennel wedges and cook until lightly browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Add the eggplant & mushrooms and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the wine and simmer until reduced by about one-third. Add the artichoke hearts. Stir in the rice and 1 3/4 teaspoons salt. Add just enough water to cover the rice completely, 2 1/2 to 3 cups. Increase the heat to high and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Scatter the haricots verts, 2 tablespoons capers, olives and roasted garlic over the rice. Remove the pan from the heat and arrange tomatoes on top; drizzle with any tomato juices. Add a few crumbles of Capricho de Cabra to the top. Remove the peppers from the oven, place them in a airtight container, and then transfer the paella to the oven, cover, and bake undisturbed for 20 minutes. Once the peppers have cooled, remove the skins & seeds and then slice. Scatter the remaining 2 tablespoons of capers and the peppers over the paella and add the remaining Capriche de Cabra. Turn off the oven, but leave the paella inside, covered, to continue cooking until the rice is tender, 20 more minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley.
This dish is easy to prepare ahead of time, and perhaps even better after the flavors have had time to integrate. Store the pan in the fridge and re-warm in the oven the following day.