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Modesto's paella

Modesto's Paella Mixta is made with chicken, shrimp, mussels, clams and chorizo. Photo By David Carson,

Q: I went to Modesto with two girlfriends for a night out, sharing our lives and food. We ordered the seafood paella. It was fabulous and we had great fun sharing the plate, dividing up the treasures we found.

— Chris Wallach, Fenton

A: Eleven years ago this week, the Spanish restaurant Modesto opened on the Hill, the city’s Italian neighborhood.

The menu features tapas, small plates of food meant for sharing, and a variety of entrees, including several paellas.

Paella Mixta, which includes seafood, is the most popular of several on Modesto’s menu. With paprika-seasoned chicken, grilled sausage and fresh seafood, this paella is already a dramatic dish; the saffron-tinted rice, strips of roasted red and yellow peppers and tiny green peas make it especially pretty.

To best re-create Modesto’s paella at home, executive chef Mike Warhover offers several tips. First, there’s no need to buy a paella pan. Wide, shallow, lightweight paella pans help create the rice “crust” that paella fans covet, but a home skillet will work if it’s not too heavy. Warhover also recommends cooking the rice with a minimum of stirring. Once in the oven, cook the paella until the rice is tender and beginning to caramelize at the edges. “You don’t want crunchy rice but do want a little texture, a little ‘bite,’ ” he says.

Modesto is closed on the Fourth of July; for the remainder of the week, the restaurant celebrate its 11th anniversary with menu specials and special events.

Recipe: Paella Mixta

Special Request is written by Kirkwood resident Alanna Kellogg, author of the online recipe column and “veggie evangelist” at the food blog about vegetables, A Veggie Venture.

To request a restaurant recipe, send the name and location of the restaurant and a description of the dish to Restaurants featured in this column must be in the St. Louis area. Include your name and daytime phone number.