We're such risotto fans around here, we thought we'd go another direction and visit Spain to see what all the curfuffle's about with their famous rice dish, never mind that Big Guy bought me a coveted paella pan for my birthday this year and it needed a test drive.
Inspired by a recipe I found on the web at La Tienda, The Best of Spain, I followed the method but cut the quantities in half so we wouldn't be eating leftovers for the next month. Of course I had to make some adjustments based on the availability of ingredients too - nixed the chorizo and used fresh linguica instead, jarred pimentos instead of piquillo and left out the lobster entirely, but hey isn't that what cooking's all about?
The paella flavor party began with extra strength chicken stock seasoned with smoked paprika and saffron reducing on the stove top and chicken browning in the pan and moved on to slices of fresh linguica sausage browned up till crispy too. Garlic, yellow and green onions, and pimentos add to the layers of flavor followed by arborio rice, parsley, bay leaves and wine.
Now, if you're thinking there's a ton of prep involved - uh, you'd be right. It is far from an easy on the cook effort, and a word of warning - it makes a tremendous mess of your stove top, but the end result is all rather impressive if I do say so myself. We topped our paella with shrimp, mussells, awesome huge cherrystone clams and snow crab claws too. It was absolutely delicious, not perfect, but delicious!
In this particular case, the paella's finished in the oven which made it much easier to deal with; however, I goofed up and added a little more liquid to the rice because I was afraid it would be dry but as a result, the dish didn't get the lovely crusty bottom common in a perfectly made paella. It was certainly more than passable however, as a first effort.
I can't wait to make it all again using nature's bounty from the Pacific Northwest. It really is a perfect way to showcase fresh seafood never mind it'll make tremendously delicious party food, cooked outside in the outdoor kitchen while guests mill around getting sloshed on sangria. That's quite the scenario isn't it?
Chicken and Seafood Paella (adapted from La Tienda.com)
3 cups low sodium chicken stock
3 packages chicken concentrate (like Flavor Boost)
1/2 large yellow onion
1/4 teaspoon saffron
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 cup good quality olive oil
1 pound assorted chicken pieces – I used 2 wings, 2 small thighs, and 2 drumsticks with “knuckle” removed
2 links fresh linguica, sliced into quarter inch pieces
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, chopped
1 small jar pimentos, drained
1/2 pound large shrimp, deveined but shells left intact
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1-1/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional in our case)
9 large clams
4 ounces fresh snow crab claws (optional)
Lemon wedges for garnish
In a small pot over medium heat, heat broth with saffron, smoked paprika and onion. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the onion and measure broth. You will need 2-3/4 cups exactly – return broth to pot to keep warm.
Preheat oven to 325.
Heat olive oil in paella pan until almost smoking. Meanwhile wash and dry chicken pieces well and sprinkle with coarse salt. Add chicken to hot pan and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove to a platter and keep warm. Add linguica and cook until browned and crisp – about 5 minutes. Add onion, garlic, green onions and pimento and cook, stirring constantly until onion is softened. Add the shrimp and sauté just until they start to turn pink – about 1 minute. Remove shrimp from pan and keep warm along with the chicken. Add parsley, bay leaf, and rice to the pan and cook, stirring to coat the rice with oil. Stir in white wine and add hot broth. Bring to a boil and cook uncovered over medium high heat for 10 minutes. Add peas. Bury the shrimp and chicken in the rice. Add clams and mussels with the edge of the shell that will open facing up. Decorate top of pan with snow crab claws. Bake uncovered for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and cover with foil for 10 minutes. Serve garnished with lemon wedges and more chopped parsley. Makes 6 servings.
A year ago - Bloody Mary Shrimp Sauce with Lobster Ravioli
Two year's ago - Cheater Chili
Three year's ago - Creamy Tortellini Primavera