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Paella

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A large pan of paella

This scrumptious paella dish is best served with homemade sangria - a recipe for which is given below.

The nice thing about paella is that other than the rice and seasonings, much of it is a matter of what you can get during your shopping that day. Because of this, please consider the following list of ingredients more as 'guidelines' rather than as strict amounts to be followed exactly - for instance, this Researcher never uses measurements. As a general rule, when cooking rice you put enough liquid over the rice to cover it, plus about an inch (or to the pulse point on your wrist if you lay your hand on the rice; a canny Japanese method of measuring rice). Some of the items might not be readily available unless you have access to a Spanish/Latin grocery store.

When I make paella, the seafood and such is based on what I can find fresh in the market that day. This was really fun when I made it for friends one night in Diamante, a little seaside village in Italy. Scallops make a great substitution for the fish if you can't find the right fish for your taste. I tried this last night and it was excellent.

Ingredients

All measurements are approximate:

  • 2 Cups rice (basmati works well, though it's traditional to use arborio)
  • 6 Cloves garlic (3 per pan)
  • 1/2 Onion, sliced or chopped
  • 6 tblsp Olive oil (3 for each pan)
  • 2 – 2½ cups Chicken stock (or shrimp stock made from boiling the shells if you clean the shrimp)
  • 2 packets 'Sazon Goya' with saffron if you can find it (1 per pan). Otherwise, use the following: (Per packet measurement)
    • Pinch Saffron
    • Additional garlic (1-2 cloves)
    • 1/4 tsp Salt
    • Additional pepper
    • 1/2 tsp Adobo (again, if you can find it)
  • 1 tsp Fresh thyme (or dried)
  • 1/4 tsp Spanish smoked paprika (if available)
  • 1 Cup white wine
  • 1 Whole chicken, cut up (if you use boneless/skinless use thighs rather than breasts)
  • 1lb Chorizo or Andouille sausage (or any firm spicy sausage at a pinch)
  • 1lb Firm delicately flavoured white fish like swordfish, halibut, sea bass, etc.
  • 1lb Squid, cleaned and cut into pieces
  • 1lb Mussels and/or clams (or whatever)
  • 1lb Medium to large shrimp (either peeled and cleaned or with the shell on)
  • 1lb crab or lobster. Whole or claws but it's prettier if it's still in the shell and the shells are cracked for your guests. (If you use whole lobster steam it then cut it in half lengthwise.)
  • Handful fresh parsley
  • Handful fresh or frozen green peas (not canned for this)

Method

  1. This is a two-pan meal called a Mariscada, but you can make it in one pan if you wish. To make the dish in one pan, combine the white wine with the chicken stock to cook the rice in and then add the rest. Reduce the seasonings to enough for just for one pan. Just remember to add the seafood just in time for it to be cooked so it doesn't overcook (a maximum of 10 minutes before finishing the dish for most of the seafood). It tastes far better in two pans though.

  2. In one pan sauté whole garlic (or halved large cloves) in olive oil until golden. If you tilt the pan so the garlic 'deep fries' in one small part it works best. Add chopped onion and sauté until translucent and then remove both from pan and reserve for later. Brown the chicken skin down in the olive oil that the garlic and onion was sautéed in. Remove the chicken then sauté rice in same pan. When the rice is bright white and starting to turn golden, add chicken seasonings and sauté a bit longer. Then add chicken stock, sausage and replace the chicken pieces. Cover and simmer.

  3. In the second pan, while the rice and chicken are cooking, sauté the garlic in olive oil until golden. Sear fish, squid and shrimp in oil and remove. Add white wine and steam mussels (or whatever you choose) in seasoned white wine until the shells open. Remove, discarding any unopened ones and add to other seafood. Add seasonings, replace garlic and onions and reduce the liquid in the pan by half. When this is done replace all seafood in the liquid and leave covered in pan to keep warm. Slightly underdone seafood will finish with the heat in the pan.

  4. When rice has absorbed all liquid and is tender, toss in peas as you fluff the rice to separate it. Sprinkle parsley over seafood and liquid. When serving, serve a base of rice with chicken, etc, then ladle on seafood and liquid.

Sangria

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle (large) Spanish red wine
  • 1 single-serving size container of fruit juice (your preference; this Researcher usually uses mango. If the juice isn't sweet enough you can also add honey.)
  • A couple shots of good rum (or dry sherry/madeira is good, too)
  • A variety of chopped-up fruit; just make sure one is oranges. (2 oranges, 1 apple and 1 pear is a nice mix)

Throw it all together in a pitcher or punch bowl and let it chill for a few hours.


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