My grandmother taught me that Spanish cooking tends to include whatever is fresh and available. In otherwords, to make a good paella, you need to go to the market and see what looks good. Some ingredients, like the sofrito, should not be substituted. But the meats and seafoods really need to come from local stock.
I made this paella last night for a house full of hungry guests who gave it rave reviews.
- About a cup of olive oil
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 6 cups of chicken broth
- 1 chopped red bell pepper
- 1 chopped green bell pepper
- 1 chopped red onion
- 4 large fresh Spanish Chorizos, chopped into 1/2″ slices
- 5 cups of Bomba Rice
- 4 roma tomatoes
- 1 cup peas
- 1 lb live clams
- 1 lb live mussels
- 1 lb whole shrimp with heads on
- 1 lb whole langostine with heads on
- 2 tsp saffron, crumbled
- 2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
Pour the chicken stock into a pot and heat to not quite boiling. Cover and leave over medium-low.
Place an 18″ paella pan over two burners on high to get the pan hot. Add about 3 tbsp of olive oil and heat. It’s hot enough when you drizzle a few drops of water into the oil and its sputters. Turn the heat down a little and throw in the garlic cloves. Toast until golden brown and remove them from the oil. Put the garlic in a bowl and save for later.
Make the Sofrito
You may need to add another splash of olive oil. Toss the chopped bell peppers an onion into the hot olive oil and heat on medium-high with a pinch of kosher salt until the vegetables are soft. Remove the mixture from the pan leaving as much oil in the pan as possible. Place mixture in a bowl and set aside.
Make Everything Else
Toss the chorizo into the pan and brown on both sides. Remove from heat and set aside in a bowl. (Are you starting to sense a theme here?)
Leave enough oil in the pan to cover the surface, but not more than about 1/16 of an inch deep. Drain the rest and pour it over your dog’s kibble. She’ll love you forever!
Cut each tomato in half and grate the soft part on a box grater. Throw out the skins. Set aside.
Pour the rice into the pan of hot oil and stir. Heat until the rice is evenly coated with oil for a minute or two. You want the rice to get a little bit clear, so you can see a white dot in the middle of each grain.
Now add in the hot chicken broth, the tomatoes, the garlic, the sofrito, saffron, paprika, plenty of salt and the chorizo. Stir and simmer on med-low for about five minutes.
Stir in the peas.
Add the shellfish to the the mixture. Don’t stir it in but layer it evenly on top. Simmer on medium-low without stirring. Rotate pan 1/4 turn about every ten minutes so that it cooks evenly. Paella is done when the rice is tender, the clams and mussels have opened and the shrimp and langoustine are red. There should be a slightly burnt, brown not black, crust on the bottom, called the soccarat.
Serve with french bread and red wine.