New Year's Eve 2007 - Paella
I was again inspired by the saffron I received with my package of vanilla beans. I looked through my cookbooks and searched online and finally found this recipe which I have modified a bit. I don't have a paella pan so I used a large sautee pan instead and it seemed to work out just fine.
We thought we'd have a lot left over but between me, Jim and my mom (who's visiting from TN), we ate half of it! We kept getting little spoonfuls of it and finally had to stop ourselves. It was very moist without being wet and soggy (does that make sense?). The chorizo was incredibly delicious. We bought it at Cheesetique in Alexandria. It was a hard spicy chorizo called Salametto Piccante from Framani. I'd highly recommend it if you like hard chorizos.
Here's the recipe:
3 cups Arborio rice
8 cups chicken stock
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium shallot, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1/2 (4 oz) can tomato paste
15 large shrimp
2-3 lbs chicken
4 links chorizo sausages, sliced into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup fresh parsley
2-3 tablespoons fresh thyme
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1 pinch saffron
3 lemons, quartered (Limes can be substituted)
For the chicken, if using a whole chicken, cut the legs off then dice the rest of the meat into chunks. Set aside. Peel the shrimp, leaving only the tail and then salt them.
Pour the chicken stock into a pot. Heat it up to a low simmer. You will be using it later and will need it to be hot.
Coat the bottom of the paella pan with olive oil (I actually used grapeseed oil). Brown the chorizo over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Do not fully cook, just get the outside well browned. Set aside.
Brown the chicken for 2-3 minutes. It should not be fully cooked. Set aside.
Brown garlic, onion and shallot until they're softened, adding the sun-dried tomatoes shortly before the mixture is finished. Push the vegetables to one side of the pan and on the other side add the tomato paste. Caramelize it, flipping it and spreading it until it begins to loosen (1-2 min over high heat). Mix all of the vegetables and meats together with the caramelized tomato paste also adding the paprika, parsley and thyme.
Add rice, mixing together and stirring as the rice browns (1-1½) minutes. As the rice browns mix in the saffron. Make sure to break it between your fingers and stir it in to release the oils. When the rice is slightly translucent add enough chicken stock to cover the whole mixture. If it's been kept warm, it will begin to boil almost immediately. Lower to a medium heat but keep it at a steady boil.
These next steps are crucial to the paella making process. Stir the paella a few times in the first 5-10 minutes, adding broth as necessary to keep the rice fully covered. After this you must let the paella sit, do not touch it! Let it cook another 20 minutes, adding broth bit by bit to keep the rice covered until the rice on the top is al dente. Don't worry about rice burning to the bottom, this part is considered by some to be the best part.
Once you have about 8 minutes left to cook, stir the paella for the last time. Lay the shrimp on top, turning over after 2-4 minutes to cook the other side.
When the 20 minutes are up (the rice on top will still be quite al dente), take paella off of the heat and cover. You must let it sit for 15-20 minutes without touching it. If you lift the lid early, the rice will not finish cooking properly and will be crunchy.
Once you're sure it's ready uncover it and garnish with lemon wedges and serve.