Dreams of summer. They're inevitable this time of year, when memories of sun and warmth are fuzzy at best, and it's hard to believe that you'll ever be able to step outside without a coat again. Moorish paella, warm with spice and color, is a ticket out of this greyness. It tastes of warm nights in faraway places. Tartine's genius lemon cream is equally transporting, soft, breezy and positively luscious.
Dinner is a good time to escape.
4 chicken thighs
4 merguez sausages (chorizo is fine, too)
1/2 head cauliflower
2 cups Arborio rice
About 4 lemons (for 1/2 cup plus of juice) Meyer or regular
We bet you've already got tomato sauce, chicken stock, caraway, paprika, smoked paprika, cumin, onion, garlic, olive oil, butter, wine, salt, sugar and eggs. If not, you'll need those, too!
1. NWB has it all figured out. First thing, pop those chicken thighs in a simple salt brine (the morning of, if you're working that far ahead). Or skip it if you don't want to wait.
2. Make the paella! The lemon cream is quite simple, but it will need your full attention through the whole (short) process so it's something I'd tackle after dinner. So, cook the sausages and brown the chicken.
3. Begin layering the flavors. Add the onions, cauliflower, spices. Then more spices, wine, tomato sauce. Add the chicken back to the pot along with rice and stock. Now it simmers for about 20 to 30 minutes.
4. If you're really anxious to get it done, or just a terrific multi-tasker, this could be a window to make the lemon cream if you'd really like to not wait until after dinner. If you want, now is your moment! Lemon cream it up!
5. Dinner is served! Then, later, a bowlful of creamy California sunshine for dessert. Sweet dreams.