Road to plate has been parked, as may of you have, so I’ve created a series of recipes that can help offer some comfort and add a bit of variety.
Like every great dish, they all come with a degree of embellishment and an individuals own creativity. One of my favorite dishes is Valencia’s Paella. Throughout my travels in Spain, I’ve come across various versions, all equally delicious. I’m sharing with you my version, of a mixed paella.
Paella is traditionally served in what is called a Paellera. Even though the pan allows for controlled even cooking and gives the dish its name, you can substitute with any shallow large, at least 14″ round saute skillet. Stay away from using cast iron of stainless steel. A non-stick pan will offer a decent substitute. Most paella pans are made of carbon steel so after use, make sure you coat with a little oil to keep from rusting and aiding in seasoning the pan. Many kitchen stores will sell paella pans or you can find several online retailers. If your going through the labor to create this dish, make sure you get the pan!
Rice: you want to use a short or medium grain rice. This style of short round rice absorbs liquid effectively, much like Arborio in risotto making. Look for true paella rice such as Bomba in specialty markets or you can use any short round to medium grain rice.
In true paella fashion, many people fond over the Socarrat. This is the crusty bits of rice that form on the bottom or rim of the pan, during the final stages of cooking. It’s prized in many households and restaurants. It provides an additional level of texture and toasted flavor.
1lb boneless skinless chicken thighs – cubed
1/8 cup olive oil
2 cups chorizo sausage – diced or coin cut (andouille can be used)
1 medium size yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic – diced
1 tbs paprika
1 cup diced roasted red bell peppers (drained of oil)
3 cups short or medium grain rice
6 cups chicken stock
3 Generous pinches saffron
8oz firm white fish (mahi mahi or swordfish) – cubed
12-18 raw medium to jumbo shrimp, peeled, de-veined and tail off
1/2lb thawed squid rings and tentacles
1 cup sweet peas, frozen
1 lemon for wedges
Chopped parsley (optional)
Season the cubed chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Keep chilled until use. Separately, season the shrimp, squid, and fish with salt and pepper and keep chilled until use.
Heat additional oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the sausage until browned, remove and hold. Add chicken thighs and brown using oil remaining in pan. Cook for about 7-10 minutes or until chicken is nearly cooked through.
In the same pan add diced onions and garlic. Sauté until onions until softened. Do not burn the garlic. Add rice and saffron and cook for 2-3 minutes or until all the rice has been coated with oil. Rice should start to become a yellow color. Add diced bell peppers and cook for an additional 1 minute.
Add chicken stock to cover the rice, bring to a light boil and then simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Add the shrimp, squid and fish and fold into the rice. Let simmer over a medium heat for about 6-8 minutes. You may need to add more chicken stock until rice is fully cooked and seafood has cooked through. Near end of cooking process, when most of the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, add peas and allow peas to warm through. You can let the paella continue to simmer over a medium to high heat to help create the socorrat; that’s the crusty rice bits that can form around the rim and bottom of the pan.
Note: when cooking over stove top, make sure to turn your pan often to help distribute proper heat.
Remove from heat and garnish for lemon wedges and/or chopped parsley