Spanish Seafood Paella
There are literally dozens of ways to prepare this beloved Spanish rice dish. Even in its homeland, there is no single, official recipe. Over the years, I’ve come across dozens of savory interpretations. Paella Valenciana (from the city of Valencia) is considered the original, the classic paella. It includes rabbit, chicken, assorted beans, onions, tomatoes, and of course, short grain rice. Snails are optional. Shellfish Paella usually features mussels, shrimp or prawns with heads and shells still on, clams and lobster. Vegetable Paella is a kaleidoscopic feast of onions, leeks, tomatoes, cauliflower, peas, multi-colored bell peppers, artichoke hearts, and tomatoes. Other favored ingredients include pork loin, sausages such as chorizo and breakfast sausages, sea bass or other firm ocean fish, ham and squid. When it comes to wine, a chilled Beaujolais, served in a glass pitcher with fresh peach slices is an ideal accompaniment to paella and other robust Spanish fare. Below, I’ve shared my favorite paella recipe which will serve around 8 (very happy) guests.
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1/3 cup warm water
1/4 cup olive oil, or more
1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
One 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
3 cups chicken stock
Salt and coarsely ground pepper
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut in 2-inch lengths
1 cup frozen peas
1. Dissolve the saffron in the water and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a very large skillet or paella pan. Sauté the bell pepper until soft and transfer to a platter and reserve. Turn the heat to high and add the chicken. Cook until brown all over and remove and reserve. To the same pan, add the onions, garlic, and tomatoes adding more oil if necessary and cook until the onions are transparent. Add the rice, saffron, stock, chicken, and bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes.
3. Add the shrimp, clams, and mussels, cover and cook 10 minutes longer. Stir in the peas and beans, cover and cook 5 minutes longer. If all the stock is not absorbed, remove the lid and cook until the rice has absorbed all the stock, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.