The Ultimate Paella
Paella, a traditional rice dish of Spain, originated in the fields of a region called Valencia in eastern Spain. It is said that at lunch time in the mid-nineteenth century, workers in the fields would make the rice dish in a flat pan over a fire. They mixed in whatever they could find – such as snails and vegetables. Now, there are as many versions of paella; some may contain chicken, pork, shellfish, fish, eel, squid, beans, peas, artichokes or peppers. The best Paella always is cooked over an open fire in a Paella pan with medium-grain rice though. Below is one of the many recipes to make this mouth-watering original Spanish cuisine. On our Spain Cycling Tours, we ride through rice fields and many restaurants offer Paella, like these in Girona : http://www.restaurantalqueria.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Makes: 4-6 servings
- 1 (3-pound) frying chicken, cut into 10 pieces
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 Spanish onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
- 1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
- 4 cups short grain Spanish rice
- 6 cups water, warm
- Generous pinch saffron threads
- 1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- 2 lobster tails
- 1/2 cup sweet peas, frozen and thawed
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- Combine 1 tablespoon paprika, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, Kosher salt and ground pepper into a small bowl. Rub the spice mix all over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
- Heat oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat. Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Add chicken skin-side down and brown on all sides, turning with tongs. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from pan and reserve.
- In the same pan, make a sofrito by sauteing the onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld. Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in water and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron. Add the clams and shrimp, tucking them into the rice. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, when the rice is filling the pan, add the lobster tails. When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it’s perfect.