Colorful Creation: Paella Valenciana

Nothing beats getting together with a group of friends and sharing a meal, especially when everyone contributes to making it! The other night, a group of us got together at my friend’s house and made a spread that still has my mouth watering. We had some delicious (and dangerous) sangria, some flavor-packed guac, some cannellini bean dip, and, the star of the show, a giant pot of Paella packed with seafood, chicken, chorizo, and some veggies.

This paella is a great dish to make with friends because it serves so many, and because it has a little bit of something for everyone!

My original inspiration for this dish came from a cookbook one of my Tias gave me during my bridal shower.  I added a few things here and there, and the result was awesome! The prep work was made much easier by having my friends, Lacey and Alex, there to help… I definitely recommend doing this with some skilled sous chefs like the ones I had 🙂

To me, the beauty of a dish like paella is that things don’t always have to be in exact measurements; you can add or take away ingredients, and it’ll still turn out great! Don’t like seafood? Make your paella with only chicken and chorizo. Not a fan of pork? Skip the sausage and add in some veggies or some different kinds of seafood. Customize this dish to your liking, and reap the benefits of your creativity!

 

Paella Valenciana (serves 10-12)

Ingredients

4 cups “bomba” rice- you can use this rice or arborio, but Bomba rice is the one most commonly used for paella

2 cups clam juice

4 cups chicken broth

2 cups dry white wine (I used a chardonnay)

1 tsp saffron

3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 tbsp chopped parsley (for garnish)

olive oil

6 small chorizo sausages chopped into rounds (If you opt to get uncooked chorizo sausages, which we did- from Whole Foods- cook about 3-4 of them  over medium-high heat and then chop them into rounds once they cool a bit)

1.5-2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cooked and chopped (marinade the thighs in 2 minced cloves of garlic, 2 tsp salt, some black pepper, 2 tsp lime juice, and 3 tsp olive oil. Cook the thighs and then chop into small/bite-sized pieces)

1.5 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 lb monkfish, chopped into 1 inch (or slightly smaller) cubes and seasoned with salt and lime

12 fresh large clams- make sure they’re fresh! they should be sealed shut when you get them)

12 mussels (same goes for mussels- make sure they’re tightly closed to ensure their freshness!)

1/2 cup frozen peas

4 roasted red peppers (I got the ones that come in the jar), 2 chopped into small pieces for the rice, and two julienned (cut into thin, ling strips- so cut thin strips lengths for the garnish!

Directions

First, get yourself a paella pan. This time around, I had to use a deep pot because it was the only thing we had that would fit all the rice, but the cooking process is much more straight forward with w large paella pan… I usually use my large braising pan with a lid, since I don’t have a pan specifically dedicated to paella.

Place the clams and mussels in a bowl filled with cold water. This will let them release any sand or grit they have in them.

Combine the clam juice and chicken broth together in a pot and heat it up to a simmer.

While the broths are heating up, cook your meats (chorizo, then chicken) in the pan in some olive oil. Set the meats aside and let them cool a bit so you can chop them up into pieces.

Coat the pan in olive oil, if there is not enough residual oil left, and throw in the chopped onions, the chopped garlic, and the 2 chopped roasted red bell peppers. Add in the rice and move it around for a minute or two until the rice is coated and a bit toasted. Add in the wine and stir around, scraping the brown bits off the bottom. stir for a minute, and then add in the clam juice and chicken broth. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron. Add the clams, mussels, monkfish and shrimp, tucking them into the rice. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 20 minutes.

When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, making the perfect socarrat. This toasted rice at the bottom is a prized possession- make sure you get some!

Garnish your paella with the peas, julienned roasted red peppers, and parsley!

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