Christmas Paella…

I made a Jambalaya for a little get together before Christmas.  Because I was in the one-pot cooking mood, I decided to make a cousin of that dish, Paella.  Paella is a spanish dish where rice, meat, and seafood are all cooked together, melding all the flavors.  There are three types of paella traditionally: valencian, seafood, and mixed.  This is a mixed paella.  Valencian involves green veggies, but who wants that? Ewww.

The Moorish people of Spain (spanish muslims) first cooked rice with vegetables and other things because it was a cheap staple of the diet.  By the 15th century, it was common among non-muslims as well and stayed after the expulsion of muslims from Spain.  History 101 is now over, you can wake up.

I looked to Tyler Florence’s paella recipe for a base to start out with.  I switched out lobster with mussels, took out the peas, and used chicken thighs instead of a whole chicken.  Thighs have more flavor than the breast meat.  My girlfriend and I had fun poking the clams to ensure their liveliness.

That one is alive and well.  Actually they all were, which is what we want.

I used my large electric skillet for ease of heat maintenance, but you can use a large skillet for the oven.  Trust me, the larger the pan, the better.  It got very difficult for me to stir things up towards the end.

The arborio rice will absorb all that delicious liquid.

The shrimp and clams are added last.  They’re ready when the shrimp are pink.  At the same time, the clams will spring open.  My girlfriend thought of it as murder, but at least they died feeding our hungry tummies.

Paella

  • 2 lbs boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 16 oz loose Spanish chorizo sausage, mashed up
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • A bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed (reserve juice)
  • 4 cups short grain Spanish rice
  • 6 cups water, warm
  • Generous pinch saffron threads (about a tsp and a half for me)
  • 1 dozen cockle clams, scrubbed
  • 1 pound shrimp (U16-20), peeled and de-veined
  • 1 lb mussels
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

Rub the chicken thighs with 1 T paprika, 2 t dried oregano, salt and pepper.  Marinate for an hour.

Heat oil in your pan over medium-high heat (for me it was 350 degrees).  Saute the chorizo until browned and remove.  Add the chicken skin side down and brown both sides then remove.

Add the onions, garlic, and parsley.  Cook about 3 minutes until onions caramelize.  Add the tomatoes and cook another minute or so.  Add the rice and stir to coat all grains.  Pour in tomato juice and most of the water (save an amount equal to the tomato juice for later).  Cook about 10 minutes.

Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron.  Stir to incorporate.  Add clams, mussels, and shrimp.  The shrimp will cook in about 8 minutes.  Let everything simmer until the rice is al dente, about another 15 minutes.  Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley.

*next up…fresh clam chowder…*

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