I am excited to submit my first official post as a contributor to Anna’s “Glamper” site. Ironically and even though I love Italian cuisine more than life itself, I have decided to feature one of my favorite culinary and cultural experiences – Paella
Paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish that originated in the mid-19th century in Valencia on the east coast of Spain. Many non-Spaniards view Paella as a national dish but, most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian specialty. This savory and delicious dish of limitless variations is traditionally served in Spanish households for Sunday dinner.
This paella is considered a “paella mixta” (mixed paella) consisting of chicken, chorizo, seafood and vegetables. Although product substitutions can be made, for the best results and to insure a most memorable experience, the following is advised:
Purchase a traditional and authentic Paella Pan – La Paella is an excellent source for the best pans, ingredients, cookbooks and more.
I encourage everyone to use quality oriented ingredients – natural, organic, sustainable farmed and free range, free roaming or cage free products.
Use a fine quality “extra virgin” olive oil – my recommendation is: Los Villares Picual XV Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain.
Use only Spanish “Bomba” rice, this is medium grain rice which has a toothy texture and can absorb complex flavors – I suggest La Perdiz, Spanish Bomba Rice.
If adding Chorizo make sure it is authentic Spanish Chorizo – my preference is Bilbao Brand Spanish Chorizo.
This recipe has resulted from considerable experimentation, working with a number of recipes, adjusting and altering the approach and ingredients to suit my personal preferences and a flavor profile that I particularly enjoy.
Thank you for the opportunity to share this recipe with all “Glamper” followers.
HUB’S HEARTY PAELLA
12 oz. (21 / 25 count size) shrimp, peeled (reserve the shells for the broth) pat dry
½ lb Bay scallops, patted dry
8 small mussels, scrubbed
8 small clams, scrubbed
1 small bottle of clam juice
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut in half and seasoned with salt and pepper.
¾ lb Bilbao Brand Chorizo
½ red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1 inch strips
½ yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into strips
1 ½ cup of frozen peas
Pinch of Pilar Spanish Saffron threads
Fresh ground black pepper
¼ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
½ white onion, grated on the largest holes of a box grater
6 cloves of garlic, pealed and sliced
1 ½ large tomato halved and grated on a box grater (discard the skin)
1 ½ cups La Perdiz, Bomba Spanish rice
3 lemons cut into wedges
Make the Broth: In a medium saucepan, bring 4 ½ cups of water to a boil. Add shrimp shells and clam juice and simmer, covered for 10 minutes. Strain the broth and return to the saucepan. Toast the saffron threads gently in a toaster oven, crumble the threads and add to the broth. Taste for salt, the broth should be well-seasoned. Let the broth sit off the heat.
Sauté the Chicken: Drizzle olive oil in paella pan, heat olive over medium-high heat. Sauté the chicken with a pinch of onion and garlic until chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to bowl, set aside.
Sauté the Chorizo: Drizzle olive oil in paella pan, heat olive over medium-high heat. Sauté the chorizo with a pinch of onion and garlic until chicken is cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to bowl with chicken, set aside.
Sauté the Peppers: Drizzle olive oil in paella pan (in same pan), heat over medium-high heat. Sauté the peppers with a pinch of onion and garlic until the peppers are tender but not limp. Transfer to bowl with the chicken and chorizo, set aside and cover with aluminum foil.
Sauté the Seafood: Drizzle olive oil in paella pan (same pan), heat oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the shrimp and scallops until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl separate from the chicken, chorizo and peppers, set aside and cover with aluminum foil.
* If anytime during the sautéing process the pan starts to accumulate a “burned” residue, clean the burned material from the pan and start fresh.
Make the Safrito: Reduce the heat to medium and sauté the remaining onion and garlic until onion softens, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato, season with salt and cook, stirring often and until the mixture turns a deep burgundy color is thick like compote, about 15 to 20 minutes. If the mixture starts to sick to the pan or burn add a little water.
Add the Rice and Cook: Bring the broth back to a simmer. Add the rice to the pan with the sofrito and cook for 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high. Pour in 3 cups of the broth (reserve the rest) and stir or shake the pan to evenly distribute the rice. After 5 minutes, arrange the clams and mussels in the pan submerging them as much as possible below the level of the liquid. From this point on, do not stir the rice. Simmer vigorously, moving the pan over one or two burners to distribute the heat and cook the rice as evenly as possible. After 5 minutes, add the chicken, chorizo and peppers evenly distributing in the pan. Simmer until the rice is at the same level as the liquid (another 10 to 12 minutes) and reduce the heat to medium-low then, add the shrimp, scallops and frozen peas distributing them evenly around the pan. In 5 minutes, taste a grain just below the top layer of the rice; it should be al dente, with a tiny white dot in the center. If the rice is not done but all of the liquid as been absorbed add a bit of broth and cook for a few minutes more or until the rice is done.
Create the Socarrat: Increase the heat to medium-high and, rotating the pan, cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until the bottom layer of the rice starts to caramelize, creating the socarrat. The rice will crackle, but if it starts to smell burned remove the pan from the heat immediately.
Let the Paella Rest: Remove the pan from the heat. Cover loosely with aluminum foil and let the paella rest for 5 minutes to even the cooking and let the flavors meld.
Serve: Place the paella pan in the center of the table. Remove the foil and in invite people to eat directly from the pan, starting at the perimeter, working toward the center, squeezing lemon over their section, as desired.
There are a number of considerations one could explore to complement this particular dish. However, wines from Spain may make the most sense and would work nicely with paella. Considering the combination of chorizo, chicken, seafood and the spicy nature of this traditional rice dish, I would recommend red wine exclusively. To be considerate of the “pocketbook” and to stir clear of iconic labels like Muga and Vega-Sicilia, I suggest the following as a complement to this paella:
2009 PRONTOS CRIANZA ~ 100% Tinto Fino (Tempranillo), Ribera Del Duero
Ribera Del Duero is 80 miles north of Madrid in the province of Castile y Leon and is almost exclusively a red wine region. Bodegas Prontos is situated at the foot of the massive, ancient walled fortress or castle “Penafiel” on the bank of the river Duero. Prontos, which comes from the Geek word meaning “First” was established in 1927 and enjoys a long-standing reputation for premium quality. Temparanillo that is grown in the north of Spain is often compared to French Pinot Noir and Italian Sangiovese. This variety contributes to the delicacy, aroma, spicy and earthy undertones.
Taste Profile: Aromatic toasty aromas, concentrated, fleshy, ripe cherry, plum and blackberry notes, vanilla and spice, structured but not aggressive or tannic. Approximately $19.00 to $23.00 retail. . .
2010 CASTILLO DE MONSERAN ~ Garnacha, Carinea, Aragon
Carinea is located in the north-central portion of Spain, south of Rioja – east of Barcelona and north of Valencia. This region is considered the birth place of Granacha and Roman Legions were delighted to find vines and wines being produced in this area of Spain during their occupation. The Romans however, added honey to the wine to suite their taste – so much for the judgment of the ancient Romans! Castillo de Monseran owns over 20% of all vines in the region and uses only the finest quality hillside vines (at 1,800 ft elevation from the Ebro River) for their production. Granacha or Grenache, as it is called in France, is a productive, good quality variety that produces softer, fruitier and less complex style of wines.
Taste Profile: Easy drinking, fruit forward style, herbal overtones, ripe berry and plum soft and round. Under $9.00 retail. . .
Photos: Anna Sullivan