Seafood and Mushroom Paella

Spanish paella must rank among the Earth's most perfect foods. The fragrance of saffron permeates the kitchen and stimulates a craving like no other smell. The shrimp russula, Russula xerampolina, matches this dish so well that you really don't need to add any additional meats. Alternately, you can substitite dried Boletus edulis to very good effect. Regardless, this recipe includes shrimp for the sake of festivity. Feel free to omit the shrimp if you wish to focus on the fungus alone. Be sure to give yourself at least an hour for prepartion - this dish takes time.

Soak the mushrooms for about a half hour in enough chicken broth to just cover them (about 1/2 cup.) Heat 2 T olive oil in a deep 10" cast-iron skillet or paella dish, and sautée together the mushrooms, onion, garlic, hot pepper, and one of the tomatoes. Remove and set aside as soon as the liquid from the mushrooms has been mostly absorbed and the onions are translucent. In the same pan, add the remaining olive oil on medium heat. Add the rice and fry it in the oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the sautéed onion/mushroom mixture, the white wine, and about three cups of chicken broth. Cover the frying pan with a lid. Retain about 1/2 cup of broth, and mix the saffron with this broth, letting it sit a while until needed. If there is any extra broth, use it as needed to add to the cooking rice, when it appears to be getting dry. After about 20 minutes of cooking, remove the lid and mix in the saffron broth, roasted red pepper, peas, brocoli, the second sliced tomato, and place the the shrimp on top (optional.) Cover again and steam for about 5 minutes. By this time, most of the liquid should have been absorbed, but it shouldn't be dry either. A thick and savory broth should fill the cracks between the rice without actually creating any deep pools of liquid. If you're lucky you might discover a crust at the bottom of the pan consisting of almost (but not quite) burnt rice - that's the best part!

Below, a photo of the veggie version of the above recipe, using more peas, brocoli, and whatever else you have around: