>> Friday, December 12, 2014
Joe and I have talked about making this signature dish from Spain for a long time, but paella always seemed so daunting. I mean, the list of ingredients is huge, and the explanations for preparing all the seafood seemed like too much bother. And then there's the special paella pan, a wide shallow skillet that traditionally Spaniards used over an open fire.
Our Spain/Portugal cookbook has two pages of directions for this recipe, but it also told us we were overthinking the whole dish. At its heart, the recipe for paella is basically a rice stew with seafood, vegetables, and meat, and cooks probably threw in whatever they had at home or whatever was fresh or on sale. The cookbook has a photo of a family cooking this over a little bonfire in a park, and then eating it straight out of the pan.
So here's our recipe. I'm not going to get all Julia Child on you and describe how to cook a live lobster or scrub the beards off mussels. Choose the things you like or look good at the store, then be sure to savor each one of the flavors and scents as you cook the stew - it really is an experience! Next time you make it, the mix will probably be completely different.
P.S. This makes a big pot of paella. It's perfect for a bunch of friends. If you get each of them to chop one ingredient, it will all come together quickly.
Ingredients2 lbs meat: cut-up chicken pieces, serrano ham, hard garlicky sausage such as andouille, salami or Spanish chorizo, bacon, boneless pork
2 lbs. seafood: raw shrimp, lobster, clams, mussels, snails, crawfish, calamari, crab claws, and cubes of firm-fleshed fish
4 cups vegetables: peas, sweet pepper strips, hot peppers, garlic, chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, and green beans
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
1 tsp ground saffron or turmeric
1 tbsp hot paprika
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 bay leaves, crumbled
6 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups short-grain Spanish rice
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Salt and pepper to taste
Saute the rice with the remainder of the oil so that it's coated and slightly browned. Pour in the broth, bay leaves, and parsley. Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, then add the vegetables, meat, and seafood, pressing the large pieces into the rice.
Place the skillet in a 325 degree oven, uncovered, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, cover with foil, and let sit for 10 minutes or so, until the rice absorbs all the liquid and is fluffy and tender. Squeeze the lemon wedges over the rice before serving.