My paella recipe is inspired (once again) by one of my favorite chefs…Julia Child. I have been making this recipe for over 30 years but I haven’t made it in awhile. However, I am preparing to make it this weekend, as my friend Virginia and I plan a celebration party for our friends Gary and Jeff, who got married in the Berkshires New Year’s Eve day.
It’s a meal in one pot…and it’s a great, hearty party dish. My friend Vicki, who is an amazing chef, claims the key ingredient is the Spanish sausage Chorizo. Others say it might be squid, lobster, snails, rabbit…etc. Whatever the ingredients that ultimately go into the paella, they all cook together with the rice and spices that produce a glorious mixture of taste and delight. I use either an Arborio or long grain converted rice like Uncle Ben’s. It must be perfectly cooked with the grains separate and al dente. You do NOT want it to be gummy. Have fun!
To Start: Large oven proof dutch oven or paella pan
- ½ pound lean bacon
- 1 lb fresh chorizos simmered 10 minutes in water. Roughly dice
- 6 to 8 chicken thighs or drumsticks
- 2 chopped yellow onions
- 2 red bell peppers, cored and sliced into ½” strips
- 4 to 6 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ tsp saffron threads, crushed
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ tsp dried thyme
- 1 TBL kosher salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ½ to 5 cups good chicken stock (or ½ chicken stock and ½ beef stock)
- 1 pound boiled shrimp
- 1 TBL lemon juice
- 2 TBL olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 2 cups rice white basmati rice (soak in 1 cup of water for ½ hour)
- 1 cup canned chick peas, drained
- 1 10 oz. package frozen peas
- Garnish of lemon wedges and chopped parsley
OPTIONAL: 12 to 16 fresh mussels (scrubbed and cleaned of sand)…let stand in several changes of cold water, to render any sand. Put in colander when ready to use.
1. Saute the bacon and the sausages in olive oil until lightly browned. Pour rendered fat from skillet into the paella pan. Add the onions and peppers to the bacon and sausage…add some more olive oil if necessary…and cook slowly until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.
2. Brown the chicken in the paella pan or dutch oven in the rendered fat or olive oil until nicely browned on all sides. Pour out excess fat and add cooked vegetable mixture. Pour in the wine and stock, the saffron and other seasonings, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover dish and transfer to 325 degree oven and cook for 30 to 45 minutes. Take out of oven and cool.
3. Place shrimp in a bowl and toss with lemon juice, oregano, oil and seasonings. Refrigerate until ready to use.
4. Put peas into boiling water, bring to the boil and boil uncovered for 5 minutes; drain and pour cold water over peas, and then drain again.
All of the above can be done ahead of time. Cover and refrigerate and also put shrimp and peas in refrigerator. When ready for final preparation, spoon congealed fat off top of paella.
1. Bring the contents of the paella pan (or dutch oven) to a rapid boil on top of the stove. Sprinkle in the rice, mixing it down into the liquid with a spoon.
2. Let boil rapidly for 5 to 6 minutes in an uncovered pan. Do not STIR! When the rice has begun to swell and absorbed enough liquid that it has risen to the surface, add the shrimp, peas, and chick peas. Again, push into the rice, without stirring. With liquid still boiling, insert the mussels, hinged end down, into the rice.
3. Reduce the heat and let paella simmer for 7 to 8 minutes or until rice is tender. Again, do not stir the contents of the pan, as you do not want the rice to get gummy. If you feel the rice is not cooked, sprinkle more stock if necessary, and cover pan and let steam for 5 or more minutes. When ready, cover paella and let sit for 5 minutes.
4. Garnish the paella with lemon wedges and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
We served with great French bread and a salad with olives and capers. (see Hammertown’s own vinaigrette recipe in recipes on website). Serve with red or white wine and voila…you have an elegant buffet supper.
We served 20, making 2 paella pans.