Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's Paella Night!

Ugh, the non-stop rain is already starting. I sometimes really can't stand the sound of constant dripping, it reminds me that I'm getting old and my chubby fingers hurt when I'm slicing tomatoes. The trick to overcoming dreary weather phobia is to imagine that I'm in some sunny country where the air smells of the ocean and the food is reminisce of the warm, salty air. What better place to offset the Seattle gloom than Spain!

I love Mediterranean cuisine, everything from Moroccan chicken to Turkish kebabs to Sardinian pasta. But of course, no list of Mediterranean cuisine is complete without the mention of paella. I've read countless cookbooks on making the perfect paella, and it just seems to me that paella are relatively subjective. You have the Valencian paella which have inland ingredients such as rabbit and duck while the Andalucian paella tend to have seafood. Apparently in Spain, a combination of seafood and meat paella would be faux pas (with the exception of chorizo to add taste and colour).

I've made paella twice in my life, both times in which I have never used a paella pan. I don't think it's particularly necessary if you don't make paella habitually. A large stainless steel frying pan would suffice. I don't remember where this recipe comes from, but it's a tried and tested method that I love although it's not traditionally 'Spanish'. It combines chorizo, chicken and seafood - a faux pas, but a tasty faux pas no less.

We paired this with some wonderful homemade sangria to complete the Spanish experience. Sadly, the night was ruined with some minorly buzzed watching of Sex in the City, The Movie. It was so bloody awful, even a whole bottle of Rioja and extra brandy in the sangria wasn't enough to numb the pain.

Chorizo, chicken and seafood paella
Serves 4

8 oz. chicken thighs
6 mussels, debearded and scrubbed
6 tiger or jumbo prawns, peeled with tails left on
6 oz. red snapper or cod
1 Spanish chorizo link, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 medium white Spanish onion
1 cup Spanish Bomba rice (substitute with Italian Arborio)
2 tsp Spanish roasted paprika
1 tsp Spanish saffron threads (crushed)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
Handful chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste

Cut the chicken thighs and snapper into bite size pieces.

Season the chicken all over with paprika and set aside. Mix the chicken broth and water in a saucepan and set over medium heat to keep hot.

Heat a large shallow skillet or paella pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Saute the chicken and chorizo until cook through and the oil in the pan turns red. Set aside on a plate.

In the same pan heat an additional 1 tbsp olive oil and add in the garlic, onions, tomatoes and remaining paprika. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until the onions turn brown and fragrant. Add in rice and stir to coat. Add in saffron and gently coat rice again.

Turn up the heat to high and pour in the chicken broth mixture. Make sure the broth is bubbling. Shake the pan slightly to ensure even heat and that the rice is completely immersed in the broth.

Turn heat to medium and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Add in seafood, cooked chicken and chorizo. Give all the ingredients one good stir to tuck in the seafood. Simmer the paella for another 10 minutes until the prawns turn pink and the mussels open up. Turn the heat up to medium-high and scatter the peas on top. At this point, there should be no remaining visible liquid in your pan.

Wait 5 minutes and turn the heat off. Scatter chopped parsley on top and let rest on hot stove for about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with lemon wedges.


Anonymous said...

That looks just gorgeous! I've always been a fan of paella but have never ponied up to make it. Maybe I'll have to try it out.

Was your chorizo the smoked kind you just need to heat, or the kind you need to cook through?

Amanda said...

Hi Grace, thanks for visiting. I bought some fresh chorizo at the butcher - the uncooked kind which is basically raw meat in a casing. I think it works better for paella.