I was asked to make paella for twenty people last week. I hadn’t made paella for fifteen years, and even then was it an ersatz version.
This dinner would be for people who knew what real paella tasted like. I hit the Internet and found that there are many different ways to cook paella, over an open fire, over a stove, in a grill or in an over. Some cooks cover the paella, others don’t.
Ingredients varied widely as well. The most authentic, from Valencia Spain, uses only chicken and rabbit with their skin and bones. Another version used only lobster and chorizo. Most were a combination of chorizo sausage, chicken, shrimp and a shell fish. I chose mussels, because their shells are a lovely black.
The following recipe is designed to be made in an 18 to9 18.5 inch paella pan with no cover. I wasn’t sure the rice on top would cook, but with a little stirring it turned a great and was fun to make!
Paella (adapted from a large variety of recipes).
Ingredients for Paella [NOTE – all these ingredients and their quantities can be varied for individual tastes. For example, I use a higher ration of rice to meat and fish than many contemporary recipes.]
- 1 lb chorizo links or hot Italian sausage (or a combination of both), cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 lbs raw chicken tenders or strips
- 1 lb pound large shrimp – peeled and deveined
- 1 ½ doz mussels
⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1-2 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
- 2 large stalks celery, with leaves, finely chopped
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans/bottles pimientos
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans peeled and diced tomatoes, juice reserved
- 1 packages frozen green beans
- 1 packages frozen artichoke hearts
- 4 cups uncooked long grain rice
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoons ground turmeric
- Generous pinch of saffron
- 8 cups chicken broth or water
Spice Mix for chicken:
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons chile powder
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preparation of Paella
- Combine spice mix ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the mixture all over the chicken and marinate for an hour.
- Heat oil in an 18 to 18.5 inch paella pan over medium-high heat. Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve.
- Add chicken and brown on all sides. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from pan and reserve with the chorizo.
- In the same pan saute the onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture almost dries out and begins to caramelizes and the flavors meld. Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains.
Pour in the chicken stock, add the saffron and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Feel free to move dry rice to an area of the pan that’s wetter.
- Add the chicken and chorizo.
- After another five minutes add the shrimp, beans, artichokes and mussels, tucking them into the rice. Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer until the rice is al dente, for about 8 more minutes.
- When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom.
- Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges and serve immediately.