Friday, June 4, 2010

Paella - at last, I give up the secret!

This is not easy. It is not quick. But it is delicious, and can you believe how amazing it looks? Really nothing makes a more impressive presentation. My dear friend Jennifer and I came up with this winning recipe. I use all the meats listed but you could just do sausage and chicken and leave out the seafood if you want (why would you?) The secret is the socarrat which is the caramelized, crispy layer of rice at the bottom of the pan in the picture on the left.

Paella serves at least 4

3-4 cups chicken broth
pinch saffron
olive oil
4 chicken breasts or thighs boneless and skinless cut in half
1 whole head of garlic plus a couple cloves thinly sliced
1 large red bell pepper cut into strips
about 10 stalks of asparagus or green beans
1 package of mexican chorizo this is the soft raw sausage (I use Fatted Calf - as the grocery store variety lists some pretty disgusting ingredients - so find a reputable sausage maker if you don't live locally.)
1 package spanish chorizo - this is the dry version cut into round slices- I also used Fatted Calf.
1 onion grated
1 tomato grated (cut in 1/2 and grate, you end up with the peel in your hand)
1 and 1/2 cups paella rice
handful of raw large shrimp
1/2 pound mussels
couple lemons

FIrst off, so you get the picture, you are going to cook everything in the one pan, remove to other bowls and then arrange it all back in the pan to finish cooking. In a large skillet 13 or so inches (they have pretty good deals on paella pans at Sur La Table or Spanish Table) heat some oil and brown the chicken. Add the whole head of garlic to one side of the pan and let it start to soften. Remove chicken then saute the peppers until very tender, about 25 min. During the last few min, add the asparagus and cook for a couple min. Remove peppers & asparagus to another bowl. Put the mexican chorizo in the pan and cook until done - move to another bowl (yes this is now 3 bowls to wash later - but the good news is only one pan!) Cook the spanish sausage just until it starts to brown and add to the chicken. Now for the sofrito. In the pan put the grated onion and garlic slices and saute about 5 min. Add the grated tomato to the mix and cook until the water evaporates and it starts to turn a darker burgundy color, then add the mexican chorizo and mix together. Now you are ready to add the rice - stirring until it becomes almost translucent and then spread it out so it is just a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the chicken and sausage and then put the peppers and asparagus around with the whole garlic head in the middle. Heat the broth with the saffron and add 3 cups to the pan. Do NOT stir! Rotate the pan around so it cooks evenly. The rice should be covered with liquid and then start to absorb it, taste the rice to see when it is almost done (20 min approx.) then add the shrimp and mussels around all the other goodies. You may need to add more broth and lightly cover with foil for the last few min to cook the fish. When the rice is done, remove the foil and turn up the heat so that the bottom layer of rice starts to make a kind of crackling noise - that's the amazing socarrat forming! Be careful as you don't want to burn it, but you want it to get a sticky crust. Remove from heat and serve from the pan (don't forget a hot pad for the table!) Place lemon quarters around and let everybody dig in. Serve with some crusty bread. Pray for leftovers.

Whew - I have to say this is my most complicated recipe to write! Their are so many reasons why I stick with posting the easy stuff...

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