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Wine Scene: Perfectly paired: paella and Yakima Valley riesling

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Yakima Valley wineries recently partnered with a group of intrepid writers for a wine pairing weekend (#WinePW). The following is an excerpt of one of the write-ups and recipe pairings that resulted. The write-up and recipe were created by Camilla M. Mann of Culinary Adventures with Camilla. Be sure to follow her for more inspiration, recipes and information on wines, vineyards and food pairings.

When a renegade winemaker and prolific food guru posted that he was making paella, I hopped over and asked him about a wine to pair with the dish. “I might want to go with an albariño, but failing that, I’m thinking a crisp dry Mosel riesling.”

I happened to have a bottle of the 2020 riesling from Sin Banderas winery in the Yakima Valley that needed pairing. During my virtual meeting with Susan Brown-Aaron of Sin Banderas, we talked about pairing it with curry and peanut sauces — in fact, Susan said it would pair with anything that included a jalapeño, but I couldn’t get paella out of my head.

The wine

I got lovely floral aromas on the nose. As the wine warmed throughout dinner, more of the marzipan and stone fruit revealed themselves. Still, a faint hint of petrol reminded me that I was drinking a riesling. This wine was a stunner and it was a delicious match for my paella.

The recipe

2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled (peels and heads reserved)

8 tablespoons olive oil (1 tablespoon per serving)

1 organic onion, peeled and diced

3 to 4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled and pressed

1 bell pepper (I used a red bell pepper)

1/2 cup tomato sauce or 3 diced organic tomatoes

2 cups Spanish paella rice

1 generous pinch saffron

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

4 cups fish stock (or you can use 6 cups stock and skip the shrimp peel simmered water)

2 cups water with the shrimp peels simmered and cooled

Place the shrimp peels in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to boil, remove from heat, and let the peels steep until cool. Strain out the peels and set aside. If you aren’t using shrimp that came with peels, you can skip this step and simply use 2 cups more fish stock or water.

Blend together the smoked paprika, coriander and turmeric. Set aside.

Peel and dice onion. De-seed and dice the bell pepper. Heat olive oil in the paella pan. Add onions and bell pepper. Stir in the chicken and cook until done. Sprinkle in spices and stir in garlic.

Sauté onion until softened and translucent.

Tip in the rice. Add the saffron to the side of the pan — away from the direct heat of the burner. Pour in the stock and nestle the peeled shrimp into the pan.

Do not stir. Gently shake the pan to distribute the rice and seafood evenly.

Bring the pan to a boil, turn down to simmer. Watch the pan and keep turning so the rice cooks evenly. The stock will become fully absorbed.

You will see fewer bubbles coming to the top. When it is completely dry, it’s done. The rice should be crackling.

When there are no bubbles, remove the pan from heat. Tent it with foil and let it steam for 10 minutes.

To serve, use a flat spatula to scrape the socarrat from the bottom. Invert the scoop onto the individual plates to show off your socarrat, that delicious, crusty goodness on the bottom of the pan!

Serves 8.

• Barbara Glover is executive director of Wine Yakima Valley, an industry group representing member wineries.

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