Recipe by Ken Wallich
- Prep time: 30 minutes
- Cooking time:
- Broth: 2 hours
- Paella: 1 hour
- Yield: 4-6 servings
After making a lot of paella over the years, I’ve refined things a bit. But, the basics remain the same.
Paella is, at its heart, a rice dish. Once you get a stock you like, and practice slowly cooking the rice with it, that alone makes a wonderful dish. Then, you can add whatever you or your guests like to it, making it an extremely healthy and versatile dish. Modify this recipe as you see fit, that’s the fun part about Paella, other than the eating! You can make it meatless, with chicken, sausage, seafood, or any combination.
Be sure to use some oil to substitute for the fat extracted from the meat in both the broth and rice preparation, if you choose to go meatless.
I generally pre-cook the meat I’m going to add, except the seafood which will be cooked in the rice. With shellfish such as mussels and clams I prefer to boil them for 10 minutes, then add them at the last step of the cooking cycle, since I’ve had them not open, creating a last minute rush to get everything cooked and ready.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4+ cups Paella Stock (recipe follows)
- 1/2 cup onions
- 2 cups Paella (or Arborio) rice
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 lemon, sliced in quarters
- Sample ingredients, combine at will:
- 1 pound Mexican style chorizo
- 1/2 pound sliced sausage (go wild!)
- 1/2 lb de-shelled shrimp (reserve shells)
- a dozen mussels
- a dozen clams
- 1/2 cup artichoke hearts
- 1/2 cup pitted green olives
- 1 cup bell peppers, diced
- 2 Jalapeño or serrano peppers, diced (optional)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cups onion, diced
- 1/2 cup celery, roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup carrots, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
- 3/4 cup white wine
- Chicken or Seafood stock, about 2-4 cups
- Water 2-4 cups (stock+water should equal at least 6 cups)
- 1/2 tsp. saffron dissolved in 1 cup warm water
- 1 Tsp Zatarains concentrated Shrimp and Crab boil (optional, ads flavor and heat)
- Yummy non-veggie broth ingredients
- 3 skin-on chicken thighs (in the stock, you’ll be rendering the fat)
- 1 ham hock
- Shrimp shells from 1/2 lb of shrimp
Preparing the Stock (can be prepared well ahead of time)
In a large stock pot over high heat add 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add chicken thighs and ham hock to pot and brown thighs on both sides. Remove chicken, leaving the ham hocks in the pot. Add onions, celery, carrots, garlic and cook until onion is translucent. Deglaze with white wine and reduce by half. Next add the seafood stock, shrimp shells, saffron, Zatarain’s and 3-4 cups of water. Let simmer for 2 hours, uncovered. I prefer to remove the skin from the chicken thighs as well, you can also just use skinless thighs, just use a little more oil when browning the chicken with the ham hocks. When stock is finished simmering, strain and hold stock on low heat.
Preparing the Paella
I now generally use a paella pan these days. Other pans can work, but you’ll need to get your process down. Add 2 tablespoons oil and the chorizo. Cook until Chorizo has released a lot of it’s fat, and is broken up. Add bell pepper, Jalapeños and onions, and cook until the onions are just translucent. Add rice, salt and pepper to pan and saute until all grains of rice are coated with oil of the pan. Form rice around the pan so it is level. Add enough broth to just cover the rice, bring to a rolling boil. Do not stir! As broth is absorbed, add another cup or two of broth. When rice is al dente, or 3/4 of the way of being fully cooked (usually after 4 or 5 cups of stock), any pre-cooked meat or sausage, shrimp, and whatever other seafood you want to add, and whatever veggies you may want (I add olives and artichoke hearts at this point). Bury any seafood items in the rice so they will cook.
Cover with foil, turn up heat to medium-high, and listen/smell. When you hear the rice crackle, and smell a toasted (but not burned!) smell, you’re getting your soffrito (the crust on the bottom of the rice that you really, really want as part of your paella). Let the soffrito form for a minute, Now it’s ready to rest. I like to open the foil, add lemon slices at this point, and replace the foil.
Turn off heat, let sit another 15 minutes.
Traditionally, paella is served in the pan at the table. If that’s not practical, you can dish up individual servings in the kitchen.
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