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Paella Valenciana

for the Ordinary Cook

 

Anyone with Spanish ancestry would swear that their family recipe for Paella is the authentic one. Many will defend the complicated steps in making this delightful and festive dish as testament to their recipe's authenticity. With likely peasant origins, however, the goal of the paella is to provide a single dish for everyone to enjoy, with as little fuss as possible. In that spirit we present our take on paella, which by no means can be claimed as the definitive recipe.  What it offers is a chance for the novice, short in time, to try their hands at making this wonderful dish using readily accessible ingredients and to make it in the simplest possible way.. 



 

Fill a large 4-quart pot about half way with water.  Add one whole onion cut in half, 6 garlic cloves, a stalk of green onion, one tablespoon whole peppercorns, one whole lemon, and salt to taste.  Cover and let water boil. When water comes to a rolling boil, add two cups of wine or sherry.  Then add your seafood one at a time dropping each and letting it cook, then removing BEFORE adding the next one.  If you drop them all at the same time, you risk overcooking because it will be difficult to sort through.   The beauty of this method is you are making a good seafood broth for your paella while partially cooking the seafood that goes in the dish and adding flavor to everything at the same time.  



TIPS: 

  * If you want to make sure that your broth is not gritty, wash the mussels and clams beforehand, scrubbing the shells lightly. Then leave it in a bowl with cold tap water. The clams and mussels will open and will release more sand in the water.  Otherwise, just clean the shells and when it comes time to use the broth, scoop from the top.  Remove the clams and mussels as soon as they open. You may want to leave some in to continue to flavor the broth.



  * Do not overcook lobster or crab.  If using lobster, you may want to separate the head from the rest.  Leave the head in the pot  to flavor but take out the rest that has lobster meat.  Overcooked lobster becomes mushy. Use the lobster head to decorate when finished.



  * Use only the shrimp head for the broth. Cook the peeled and cleaned shrimp with the rice till it changes color.



 *  If you overcook the calamari, drop it back.  It is best to leave it in the boiling broth until it tenderizes again.


4 cups Spanish short-grain rice

1 small chicken, cut into 10 pieces seasoned with salt, pepper, parika and oregano

1 Spanish chorizo sliced diagonally
1 Spanish onion, diced
4 garlic cloves
2 large vine ripe tomatoes, seeded and crushed

1/2 cup of frozen green peas, thawed
6 cups seafood broth
Pinch of saffron threads
Lemon wedges




 

​Seafood & Stock

1 lb. jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined

2 lobsters
1 dozen manila clams or similar
1 dozen mussels
1/2 lb.calamari, cleaned and sliced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1Stalk of Green Onion
1 Lemon, halved
6 cups of water
2 cups of dry white wine
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
Seasalt





Place a pan that is extra wide and shallow over medium heat and add two tablespoons of olive oil.  If you have a paellera, by all means use it.  Next sauté the garlic in the oil until browned watching carefully to make sure that the garlic doesn’t burn.  The taste of burnt garlic is off putting and will overpower everything else in the dish. Take the garlic out when finished.  Next, fry the seasoned chicken until fully cooked.

After chicken is done, remove them from pan and set aside. If too much fat is rendered, pour out oil leaving around two tablespoons.  Sauté onions in the oil until transparent but not caramelized. Next sauté the chorizo and remove when browned and slightly crisp. After removing chorizo, add rice in the flavor infused oil and sauté for two minutes.  Set aside two cups of seafood broth and drop a healthy pinch of saffron threads stirring until some color is infused.  (Use strained broth for better results.) Then add the two cups of your seafood broth with saffron to the rice and let it boil.  When water has been absorbed, add more broth repeating and adding little by little until the rice is fully cooked but still slightly moist.  (Do not put too much water as the rice will be creamy and will end up like risotto!)  This is the only part that really requires patience.  Add the shrimp.


When the rice is cooked add tomatoes and green peas. Check the seasoning.  Add salt and pepper if necessary.  Return the chicken, seafood and chorizo to the rice.  Stir the rice until it is nice and even.  Lower heat. When bottom of rice is lightly browned and crusty, take off heat and serve.

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