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I finally made paella recently and it turned out wonderfully.  What is paella?  It’s a rice dish from Spain.  Valencia, Spain to be specific.  Paella reminds me of jambalaya and gumbo, even though the textures are different, because all three of them seem to have their origins stem from the idea of  ”throwing in whatever you’ve got”.

I ended up combining ideas from several recipes with the basis of my final recipe for mixed paella (a combination of meat & seafood) being taken from Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Paella recipe.

Tyler’s recipe just calls for “Spanish rice”. Since the rice is the star of the dish, I researched what kind of rice to use. Rice grown in the Valencia region of Spain is short grained and highly absorbent.  This is the kind you’ll want to use for paella.   The types to look for are bomba or calasparra. If you can’t find those, you can also try arborio, which is an Italian short grained rice usually used to make risotto,  or calrose.   Calrose is what I used, and it absorbs less liquid than the Spanish varieties but the texture still turned out great.  If using brown rice, remember that brown rice takes about twice as long to cook.

Here’s the list of ingredients and what to do:

1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 pound chorizo sausage
3/4 pound chicken breast tenders cut into bite sized pices
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced and divided
4 cups short grain rice
6 cups broth (Use either seafood stock, water, or chicken broth)
1 four oz jar roasted pimentos in juice
1 pinch saffron threads (infused in hot water)
1 pound large uncooked shrimp peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
2 lobster tails
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 can of petite diced tomatoes
salt & fresh pepper

Combine paprika, oregano, and salt & pepper to taste in bowl. Rub the spice mix over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Heat oil in a paella pan (or shallow, wide skillet) over medium-high heat. Cook the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Add chicken to the pan and brown on all sides.  Remove from pan and reserve.

In the same pan, make a sofrito by sauteing the onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and red pepper flakes and cook until the mixture caramelizes.  Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in broth and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Do not stir.  Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron. Add the shrimp, tucking them into the rice. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer uncovered, without stirring, for about 10 minutes.  Add the lobster tails and continue cooking for 5 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.  This is called soccarat and this ‘burned bottom’ is actually desired!

Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Add peas to the top of the paella.  Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedges.

This a great meal to put in the middle of the table and eat family style with a little white wine and a salad on the side.

Let me know how yours turns out!
-J

 

Here’s something to try for an easy, tasty dinner this weekend! I finally figured out a great combination for cooking mussels.    They are so easy to make at home and are ready very quickly!

Here’s what to do:

In a deep pot, saute diced onions and garlic in butter.   Add salt and crushed red pepper flakes to taste.  Once the onions are soft and translucent,  add 1 cup of white wine.   Just choose one where you like the taste making sure it’s not too sweet.  I have used pinot grigio, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc.  Add in 3/4 cup of water and then add 2 lbs of fresh, live mussels to the pot and cover.  Note: Before I add in the mussels I rinse them off and discard any that have already opened.   Allow to steam for 10-15 minutes.

That’s it!  I love them with crispy french fries (as they are served in Belgium) – yum!

Enjoy!
-J

 

 

 

 

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