Fresh From Nancy's Garden

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The Ultimate Paella Party

Paella is one of those dishes that I absolutely love to eat! I don’t make it very often because I think it’s hard and complicated, but then an occasion comes up and I make it and realize, it’s pretty easy after all. 
If you feel like laboring a bit this weekend to celebrate Labor Day, give it a try. Just make sure you invite a lot of friends over to enjoy it. 
Don’t let the list of ingredients scare you. You can add and subtract. Don’t like mussels–no problem, leave them out. Just add your favorites. 
I think one trick is to use the right rice–short grain Spanish rice. I used arborio and it was perfect. 
The other trick is to pre-cook the sausage and chicken beforehand. It makes the final steps that much easier. If you don’t eat meat–again, no problem. You can make a really tasty fish paella. Just use your imagination.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-3 lb. chicken, cut into pieces (I didn’t use the wings)
  • 1 TBS. paprika
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 lb. Spanish chorizo sausage, sliced thick
  • 1 Spanish onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Handful parsley leaves
  • 15 oz. whole tomatoes, drained and crushed
  • 4 cups arborio rice
  • 6 cups chicken broth, warm
  • pinch of saffron threads
  • 2 lbs. mussels, debearded and scrubbed
  • 1 dozen shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 2 small lobster tails
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 4 lemons, cut into wedges for serving
  • parsley for garnish
They’re not expensive and just much easier than a wide shallow skillet.

Rub the chicken pieces with paprika, oregano salt and pepper and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place the paella pan over two burners on top of the stove. Heat the oil over medium high and saute the chorizo until nicely browned. Remove it to a plate. Add the chicken to the pan, skin side down, and brown on all sides until almost done, about 10-15 minutes. Remove the chicken and place on a plate.

Next is the most important part–the sofrito. Sofrito is just a blend of spices, but what a blend. In the same pan saute the onion, garlic and parsley. Cook for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the hand-crushed tomatoes and stir. Cook over medium heat until it begins to caramelize, about 5 minutes.

While the tomatoes are caramelizing, add the saffron threads to the chicken broth. Heat over medium until just warm. 

Pour the rice over the mixture. 

Stir the rice into the mixture to thoroughly coat it.

Pour in the chicken broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Move the pan a little so the rice cooks evenly but don’t stir it. You want to have a nice toasted bottom in the dish–it’s called the socarrat. (And just might be the best part)!

Begin to add to the pan. Start with those that need the longest to cook. I added the chicken, sausage and lobster first.

Gradually add the other fish. The shrimp, mussels and clams will vary in cooking time, but you’ll know the shellfish are ready when they open. It’s about 8 minutes. Continue to cook until rice is done, about 15 minutes total from when you added the fish. It should be a little al dente. 

At the very end, add the peas. Turn the heat on high for about a minute to get the crispy bottom.

I know it might sound hard, but really, it isn’t. You can’t go wrong if you pre-cook the chicken and sausage and you’ll know when the fish is done.

The broth should cook off and you should have a dish that looks like this. Serve it right out of the pan! Garnish with a little parsley and lemon wedges.

You can add an arugula, red onion and orange wedge salad and dress with olive oil and lemon.

Set up the buffet. Add some crusty bread and get ready to feast. You’ll fight over the socarrat–the crispy rice bottom.

End the feast with a simple dessert of cheese, chocolate and dried fruit. The perfect paella party!
Remember, you can read it first at Stu News.

Categories: Fish, Main Dishes

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