Chicken and Chorizo Paella
For either paella:
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
3 tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped or grated on a box grater
1 small onion, finely chopped
¼ tsp. Saffron (a hearty pinch will do!)
2 ½ cups Valencia or Arborio rice
pinch of Spanish paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 small bunch parsley
For the chicken and chorizo paella:
1 lb. chicken tenders
½ pound spicy dry chorizo, casing removed and sliced
½ cup shelled edamame
Add chicken stock, see below.
For the seafood paella:
½ lb each of each of the following: mussels, clams, shrimp, squid, and firm white fish, such as monkfish, orange roughy or cod.
1 cup snap peas
Paella is ALL about the rice. And the rice, well, that is all about the sofrito. What is the sofrito? The stuff that you cook in the pan BEFORE you add the rice. All those yummy veggies, spices and olive oil that lend their flavors to the rice as it cooks into deliciousness. So, no matter what paella you make, first start with a great sofrito: In a sauté pan or paella pan, heat a generous swirl or two of olive oil and add the finely chopped garlic and onion, a couple of nice handfuls of finely chopped red and green peppers, and the grated tomatoes. Cook the sofrito for 15-20 minutes until the veggies are soft and jammy. The longer you cook it the more flavorful your sofrito will be - this, of course, is a matter of taste. (If you are making the chicken and chorizo paella, add the *chicken and chorizo now.) To add a mild, robust and smokey spice to paella, use a Spanish smoked paprika. For a spicier paella, add cayenne. In class, we do a bit of each. Add some salt too. Let the sofrito bubble away for a minute or two (allow the water to reduce a bit), and then add the rice! Stir the rice continually in the sofrito until your pan becomes nice and dry – the rice has absorbed every last bit of liquid.
*Extra step but well worth it: Brown your chicken before adding to the sofrito, add the leftover chicken juices and bits. This is nice because the chicken now has some color.
Now that your pan is nice and dry, you should add liquid! Will you be using chicken stock? Seafood stock? (make with shrimp shells from the shrimp you use for the paella!) Water? Whichever, add the saffron to a glass of liquid and allow it to "bloom", also adding saffron to some liquid helps reduce the amount we stir the paella. Now, add the glassful of liquid to pan and maybe a bit more liquid. How much water/stock? Enough to cover the rice plus a little bit more – like a half an inch more. Stir gently to blend. Now STOP stirring, we don't want to force the starch from the rice, nor do we want to prevent the crispy, chewy bottom layer of rice from forming (the socarrat). Mmmm. At this point your whole house will small gorgeous.
Once the water has all been absorbed, taste your rice for doneness and flavor. You can add liquid little by little until the rice is perfect. As to the flavor - at this point you can add a pinch of salt. Is the paella spicy enough for you?
Seafood paella: Add all of the seafood and nestle it into the rice. Also add a large handful of fresh snap peas. Good – now stop stirring! Turn down the heat and let the paella gently bubble away until it is done. (this will take 15 – 20 minutes.)
Meat paella: Add edamame which are unusual but delicious! Stir the paella just enough so all ingredients are combined. Taste the rice, and when it is nice and al dente, take the paella off the heat, cover with foil and let rest for about 10 – 15 minutes. You can also check your socarrat (chewy crust) before turning the heat off. If it isn't crusty enough for you, give your pan a little last - minute extra blast (be careful not to burn!) to firm up your crust before letting paella sit. The crust will continue to form as the pan site.
To finish either paella: Cut plenty of lemon slices, and chop the parsley while the paella is resting. Before serving, test for saltiness. Toss the parsley over the perfect paella, garnish with lemon slices, and serve to the delight of your beloveds.
My brother gave us a B+ on the meal. Now we know what we are doing so I can only imagine we will boost our grade next go around.
Cooking classes are fun but actually making it again for guests seals the deal that you can add it to your repertoire. It is a different twist for holiday entertaining.