Well, it has been a long time coming, but I finally am able to post the long awaited Paella article. There is so much to say about Paella that it's impossible to know where to begin. I will start by saying the Paella pictured above, is the one I made in Arizona for Felicia Sorensen. The one below is one I made a year ago for Labor Day.
Today, Paella is found on the menus of the higher priced restaurants and a serving can command a price tag of $18 to $30. What is ironic is that it was traditionally a peasant dish that consisted of various ingredients that were available in the area and could even include left over items. In Spain the variations of the dish were and still are influenced by where it's made. The regions where there is pork and chicken will feature those meats prominently. If there is an abundance of lamb or rabbit, those items will be included. They all have 3 things in common however, they all include rice, saffron, and some type of seafood or meat.
The original Paella is known as the Valencian Paella. Valencians hold their recipe dear to their heart and have insisted that only the ingredients called for in their recipe can be used for the authentic Valencian rice dish. Among these are chicken, rice, duck, snails, butter beans, artichoke, various other beans, and spices including of course saffron. It is in the region of Valencia that Paella was born during the 18th Century. Over time, the entire Iberian Penninsula adopted it as an uncrowned national dish; however, this dish most traditionally identifies Valencia.
Although there are Paellas that contain only meats or just seafood, the more well known throughout the world is that which is called a mixed Paella, which includes various meats and seafood. One can go crazy with the various ingredients and sometimes too many is too much for a good conclusion. Remember, each ingredient is competing with one another in the flavor category, so it's smart to limit your choices and allow the saffron aroma to be the King. Everything else will fall into place and you will enjoy what is considered by many as one of the great rice dishes of the world.
The Paella that I will make with you today is of the "mixed" variety. We will use pork and chicken in the meat category and shrimp, scallops, fresh clams, and mussels in the seafood category. To tie it all together, we will use the Spanish saussage called Chorizo. Two things you cannot substitute are Chorizo and Saffron, no exceptions! Do not use Italian saussage or it will not be Paella. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. The only problem that I tend to run up against when making this wonderful dish, is that I tend to call for larger quantities of the ingredients that can fit in my pan. So please keep this in mind when making yours. I will try to give you approximate quantities for a party of 6 people which is a good average. You can adjust things accordingly to your number of guests.
Before we start, I want to talk about rice for a minute. Rice and getting it right is extremely important. If you screw up the rice, you will most likely screw up your Paella. Certain things you want to know are stay away from quick cook rice (the 5 minute Uncle Bens stuff), stay away from long grain rice which will absorb the moisture too quickly and thereby become soggy, and finally, don't let your rice get soggy ! With all that in mind, you want to look for a short and hearty grain rice. Those are the best to use when making Paella. Among the best choices is Bomba rice. It can be found in most supermarkets or specialty food stores. Whole Foods has a great selection of grains and I am sure they probably have several rice varieties that work well with Paella. But please, don't try to short cut through this one, it just isn't worth it and since you really want to make this a hit in your family the first time around, get the right rice.
I am going to assume that you have purchased a Paella pan as I discussed last week. I gave each of you plently of time to shop for them. If you ordered them online, they should be arriving by week's end. Otherwise, there were some available I believe at Target or Walmart in the $30 range for a decent 14 inch one. There's something else that I want to talk about at this time. This dish may appear very difficult to make, but I assure you that it's not the difficulty, but the time consumption and the attention to detail that is necessary. There are no special measurements or wierd baking instructions and no need for foreign dictionaries. In that respect, this is a very simple dish to make. But I"m not kidding when I say if you want to serve this by 6 PM, shop for your fresh ingredients early in the morning around 9 AM, do your prep work by 1 PM, and start cooking by 3 PM. I may be stretching this a bit, but I just want to convey to you that it's not a one hour meal. So fall in love with everything about it, the ingredients, the smells and aromas, and put on some Spanish music. Here is our shopping list for this version of Paella:
5 Boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut in quarters
1 lb of pork, cut in 1 inch pieces (does not have to be an expensive cut)
3 links of Chorizo saussage, cut in 1/2 inch slices (ask your butcher)
24 fresh clams in their shells
18 fresh mussels in their shells
1/2 lb of sea scallops, cut in half
1/2 lb of unshelled medium sized shrimp
Optional - 6 crab legs or claws or 6 to 8 jumbo prawns unshelled and heads on
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
2 medium red tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of pitted green olives (ok they're fruit) cut in halves
1/2 cup of pitted black olives cut in halves
1 cup of thawed frozen baby peas (or green beans, cut and parboiled)
1 cup of garbanzo beans (this is unique to my recipe and have found that it works)
1/4 cup of chopped parsley
3 cups of rice (either Bomba or Calasparra)
6 cups of chicken broth
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1/4 cup of olive oil
3 tablespoons of anise liquor (Pernod, Ricard, or Uozo)
1/4 teaspoon of Spanish smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of saffron threads
3 tablespoons of pimientos
6 to 8 lemon wedges (for garnish)
Before you start cooking, make sure that all your prep work is done. This includes chopping, slicing, and the following. Shell the shrimp, leaving the tails on. Put the shells in a medium size pot and add the chicken broth. Bring broth to a boil, lower heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the shells and discard. Add the saffron and paprika to the broth, cover pot, and keep on warm heat, but do not boil or simmer, just keep it warm. Preheat your oven to 325.
Pour the olive oil in your paella pan and heat oil on high. Saute your chicken and pork until golden brown. Remove from heat and set on a platter. Cover to keep warm. Now saute your chorizo on medium high for about 5 minutes. Add your onions, peppers, and garlic, and saute until onions get translucent. Now add your shrimp and saute for about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp and put them in the platter with the chicken and pork. Stir the onions and peppers and add the anise liquor, then the white wine to deglaze. Now add the rice and stir well so rice is nicely coated. Next, add the chicken broth to the rice and stir well. Add the parsley, garbanzo beans, peas, olives, tomato, and pimientos and stir well. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered for 10 minutes over medium high heat. Stir on occasion so rice doesn't stick to bottom of pan.
Now add the chicken and pork back to the pan, bury the scallops and shrimp in the rice, place the mussels and clams into the rice face up, and place in the oven uncovered. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, checking after about 15 minutes to make sure rice is nearly done. You want it to be al dente at that point, not crunchy. If you feel you need a little moisture, you may add 1/4 cup of stock, but it's doubtful you will need to. After 20 minutes, remove from oven and let set on stove top loosely covered with foil for about 15 minutes.
You have just made your first Paella! This recipe should serve about 6 of you with some left over for seconds. Garnish the edges of the pan with the lemon wedges and a bit more parsley sprinkled over the top. This dish is well accompanied with a nice pitcher of chilled red Sangria. To prepare the Sangria, add 3 parts red wine, 1 part 7 UP, 1 part orange juice, 2 oranges cut in eighths, 2 lemons cut in eighths. Stir, refridgerate for about an hour. Finish dinner with some sliced pineapple and a shot of 43 served in a brandy snifter. Enjoy your fabulous dinner !!