Friday, August 29, 2008
I’ve seriously been craving Spanish food lately. I think my wanderlust is flaring up again. Paella takes me away to the Mediterranean coast, if just for dinnertime.
Chicken & Seafood Paella
1 tablespoon sweet Spanish paprika
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 ¼ ounces Spanish chorizo, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 14 ½-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 ¾ quarts chicken broth
Generous pinch saffron
2 cups paella, Bomba, or Calasparra rice
Freshly ground black pepper
½ pound mussels
1/3 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
½ cup thawed frozen peas
Combine the paprika, about a quarter of the garlic, and 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large zip top bag. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Season generously with salt. Seal the bag, letting out all the air. Marinate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
Heat a paella pan over high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the remaining ¼ cup of oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken and cook without disturbing for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it releases from the pan and is crusty and brown. Using tongs, turn the chicken and continue to cook over high heat another 2 to 3 minutes, or until brown.*
The chicken should not be cooked through at this point. Remove the chicken to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chorizo to the pan, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until rendered.
Remove the chorizo to another plate.
Increase the heat to medium, add the onion to the pan, and sauté for 6 to 7 minutes, or until soft. Add the remaining garlic and stir for a minute or so until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture resembles a paste.
Meanwhile, combine the broth and saffron in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Return the chorizo to the paella pan. Add the rice and stir until coated with the oil.
Add enough hot broth to cover the rice by about half an inch, season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer over medium heat for about 15 minutes.
Add more broth as necessary, any time the rice looks dry but isn’t cooked through.
Arrange the chicken over the rice and simmer for another 6 to 7 minutes, or until the rice is nearly cooked through. Arrange the mussels and shrimp over the rice, scatter in the peas, and simmer, covered, for 6 to 7 minutes more, or until the rice, chicken, and seafood are all cooked through. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 to 6 people. Use a large, heavy sauté pan if you don’t have a paella pan. Do not stir the paella once the broth has been added. The trick to cooking perfect paella is to add only the amount of broth that the rice can absorb by the time it is cooked through. You can add plenty of broth at the beginning, but to ensure that the paella doesn’t end up soupy, add just a ladleful at a time toward the end of the cooking time. If you like, add a few clams to the paella along with the mussels. Purchase live mussels and/or clams the day you intend to cook them. When you bring them home, the shells may be open, especially if they’ve been stored on ice. Tap them gently and see that they close; discard any that do not close. To prepare them, scrub with a stiff-bristled brush and de-beard the mussels. Discard any mussels or clams that do not open once cooked. The smokey and earthy flavor of Spanish paprika makes it one of my favorite spices. Spanish chorizo, which is a cured sausage, saffron, Spanish paprika, and short grain paella rice are all available from La Tienda.
*Searing the chicken in this manner adds tons of flavor to the finished dish. For everything you ever wanted to know about searing, plus dozens of fabulous searing recipes, look for my book Seared to Perfection in stores in the fall of 2010.