Paella time is here
When the weather warms I begin to think about big pans of paella bursting with chicken, sausage and seafood. Paella is the perfect entertaining dish for three reasons: 1) Paella is a meal in itself, 2) paella presents beautifully, and 3) best of all, most of the work making paella be done in advance.
Recipe vs. learning the paella method
You can follow this recipe or better yet, read my paella method post. Like risotto, once you understand the method of making paella, you can improvise with a variety of ingredients. This recipe is a classic Paella Mixta, or what most people think of when they think of paella. It is filled with chicken, sausage, artichoke hearts, shrimp, mussels and clams. Purists consider this a "tourist" paella, because traditional paella highlights only a couple ingredients. Never the less, Paella de Marisco with its cacophony of ingredients is delicious.
A paella pan is great for cooking paella, but I always was unsatisfied with the way my onions cooked and my chicken and sausage browned in the thin-walled paella pan. So now I brown the the protein in a large non-stick skillet. I also cook the sofrito in the same non-stick pan, using some of fat rendered from the chicken and sausage. I find my chicken and sausage brown more evenly and burn less using this method.
When it is time to assemble and cook the paella, I use a traditional paella pan. If I am cooking for more than my paella pan allows, I will make a second pan using a large skillet.
Combination stovetop and oven method
Traditional paella is cooked over an open fire. This recipe uses the stovetop and oven. You won't get the traditional wood-smoked paella with a crispy rice socarrat on the bottom of the pan, but you will get a great dish all the same. Once you learn this method you may be inspired to try and outdoor version.
- See my post on how to store and prepare mussels and clams.
- Learn more about saffron and Spanish paprika.
- Here are online sources for saffron, Spanish paprika, bomba rice, piquillo peppers and carbon steel and stainless steel paella pans.
Yield 6 servings
Paella is the perfect entertaining dish. Paella is virtually a meal in itself, has a beautiful presentation, and most of the work can be done in advance.
- 6 chicken thighs, bone-in and skin on
- 1 large chorizo or andouille sausage, cut into 6 pieces
- 1.5 small onions, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 1.5 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 6 plum tomatoes
- 1 pinch saffron threads
- 1/2 can artichoke hearts or 1/2 package Monterrey Farms grilled artichoke hearts
- 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
- 1 1/2 t sweet Spanish paprika (pimenton), divided
- 2 cups bomba rice
- 5 - 6 cups chicken broth
- 12 clams, scrubbed and rinsed
- 6 large shrimp, tails on and shelled
- 6 mussels, scrubbed and rinsed
- 1/4 pound frozen peas
- 1/2 jar piquillo peppers
- 6 lemon slices
- Season your chicken with salt and pepper. Heat a large non-stick skillet, and pour in a bit of olive oil. Brown chicken and sausage in batches. Do not crowd and take care to brown all sides well. Remove protein from the pan and set aside. (Can be done a day in advance)
- To make your sofrito, sauté onions and garlic together in the paella pan until soft. Add red peppers and 3/4 t paprika and cook a couple minutes longer.
- Cut tomatoes in half and use your fingers to scoop out the seeds. Grate each tomato half with a box grater. Place the cut side against the grater and rub against the grater until all the meat is removed and only the skin remains. Discard the skins. Add grated tomato and a couple pinches of salt to the onion mixture. Cook on medium low heat for about 15 minutes until the moisture evaporates and the texture is squishy.
- When you are ready to cook the paella, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Put the saffron in a small bowl and add a few tablespoons of water. Let sit for 15 minutes. Put the broth in a stockpot and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.
- Add a splash of olive oil to the sofrito along with the artichoke hearts and parsley. Cook until hot. Add saffron and water it is soaking in, and the remaining 3/4 t paprika. Stir and cook a few seconds before you add the rice. Add the rice to the pan and stir to coat each grain with fat. This is the only time you stir the rice! Spread the rice out evenly in the bottom of the paella pan to form a thin layer.
- Add 5 - 6 cups of hot broth to the pan. The liquid should come up to the handles in the paella pan. Spread the chicken, sausage, shrimp, mussels, clams and peas on top of the rice and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Arrange the piquillo peppers on top of the paella. If the rice is looking a little dry add a bit more broth.
- Put the paella pan in the oven and cook an additional 10 minutes. If the paella is too liquid cook for a few more minutes. If rice is too dry add a splash or two of broth and cook for a minute or two more.
- Remove from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Arrange lemon slices around the edge of the paella pan and serve.
THIS SERVES WELL WITH