Monday, September 28, 2009


When Rachel and I were deciding what food to make for our Spanish Feast, we both knew right away that paella would be our main entree. This was amazing! The rice was light, fluffy, and flavorful from our various meats and seafood baking in the same large pot. We were somewhat intimated to make this due to the long list of ingredients, but it was not difficult at all... just a lot of steps but well worth it in the long run, I promise you. It is a great comfort meal with everything I love in 1 pot- chicken, chorizo, seafood, rice, and vegetables. Saffron threads can be $$, but I purchased mine at Trader Joe's for $6.99- so much cheaper than Kroger. Soccarat, a layer of toasted, crusty browned rice that forms on the bottom of the pan, is a traditional part of paella. In this version, soccarat does not develop because most of the cooking is done in the oven, but the directions below show you how you can achieve this crust; if you don't want to, just skip this step and move forward with the next step. This dish was DIVINE, and was excellent even as leftovers.

1-lb extra-large shrimp (21/25), peeled and deveined
Olive oil
8-9 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 Tbsp)
1-lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each thigh trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut pole to pole into 1/2"-wide strips
8-oz dry-cured Spanish chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
14-1/2 oz can diced tomatoes, drained, minced, and drained again
2 cups Valencia rice or Arborio
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
1 bay leaf
1 dozen mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 lemon , cut into wedges, for serving

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Toss shrimp, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1 Tbsp oil, and 1 tsp garlic in medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
3. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.
4. Heat 2 tsp oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking.
5. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer peppers to small plate and set aside.
6. Add 1 tsp oil to now-empty Dutch oven; heat oil until shimmering but not smoking. 7. Add chicken pieces in single layer; cook, without moving pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes.
8. Turn pieces and brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer chicken to medium bowl.
9. Reduce heat to medium and add chorizo to pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl with chicken and set aside.
10. Add enough oil to fat in Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking.
11. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
12. Stir in tomatoes; cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes.
14. Stir in rice and cook until grains are well coated with tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes.
15. Stir in chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
16. Return chicken and chorizo to pot, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
17. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until rice absorbs almost all liquid, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from oven (close oven door to retain heat).
18. Uncover pot; scatter shrimp over rice, insert mussels hinged side down into rice (so they stand upright), arrange bell pepper strips in pinwheel pattern, and scatter peas over top. Cover and return to oven; cook until shrimp are opaque and mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.
19. Optional: If soccarat is desired, set Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, rotating pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning.
20. Let paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and bay leaf, if it can be easily removed.
21. Sprinkle with parsley and serve, passing lemon wedges separately.

If You're Using a Paella Pan (Paella pans look like this):
A paella pan makes for an attractive and impressive presentation. Use one that is 14"-15" in diameter. A 14-inch ovensafe skillet will work as well, but do not attempt to use anything smaller because the contents will simply not fit. Follow the recipe for Paella, increasing the chicken broth to 3 1/4 cups and the wine to 1/2 cup. Before placing the pan in the oven, cover it tightly with foil. For soccarat, cook the paella, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after about 1-1/2 minutes for even browning.

Here is a picture of our soccarat!

Source: Cook's Illustrated


Tony said...

Real paella pans make is so much easier to cook paella, as there is a much larger surface area and give much better results than a normal pan :)
Mouth-watering pictures too!

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