We had a dinner party at our house last night with two dear friends, Omeed and Rachel. Rachel has recently returned from a trip to Europe, in which she ran the Paris marathon and took a cooking class in Barcelona! So proud of her for the former and so jealous of the latter. We have been talking about her cooking class quite a bit and so this weekend we decided to get together and make some Spanish recipes to feast on. The menu consisted of Pan con Tomate with Jamon Serano and queso de cabra, tortilla Española, Paella de Mariscos and Crema Catalana. Rachel and I cooked it all up and she brought an amazing bottle of Spanish white wine all the way from Spain! It was absolutely amazing, delicious and a total blast!! Below is the recipe for the Paella I made.
1.5 Cups of Rice
2 Boneless Skinless Chicken thighs*
6 Bodies of Calamari***
3 Large diver scallops or 6-8 small scallops****
4 Large Scampi or 6 Head on Shrimp^
1 link of Spanish Chorizo (3 oz)
4.5 cups of water
1 medium sized onion, diced (or half a large one)
4 cloves of garlic – minced
1 Tbs Smoked Sweet paprika
2 Tbs olive oil
Salt to taste
1. Place a large skillet over med-high heat to get nice and hot
2. Dice the chicken into small centimeter squared pieces and toss with the smoked paprika and salt, set aside.
3. Dice the chorizo into centimeter squared pieces and set aside
4. Add the olive oil, chicken and chorizo to the pan and allow to brown on all sides
5. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook until you can smell the garlic
6. Add the rice and stir it so that it gets coated in the oil
7. Add the water and saffron (you can steep the saffron in the water if you want, I don’t find it makes a big enough difference to bother with)
8. Once it begins boiling reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer for 18 minutes
9. Once 18 minutes are done most of the water should have evaporated and the rice should be cooked or almost cooked.
10. Add the mussels, clams and calamari, cover with aluminum foil and wait for them to open.
11. In a separate skillet heat a little bit of olive oil and cook the scallops and scampi/shrimp until done. Then place on top of the paella.
12. Once the mollusks open turn the heat up to high and cook for another 45-60 seconds or until the bottom is crunchy
13. Optional: Garnish with Italian Parsley and serve with lemon wedges
14. Apply to face
* – Many recipes and in fact many Spaniards use whole chicken parts with skin and all, they cook them in the pan and then remove them before adding the rice. This to me is a waste of time. The chicken thigh adds enough flavor to achieve the desired result without all the mess and time of the full chicken piece. Also, for me, the paella the mariscos is about the mariscos, not the pollo.
** – Clams and Muscles should be cleaned before you start cooking the paella. Muscles and clams at the grocery stores are so clean that all you really need to do most of the time is rinse them and check for dead ones. However, if you are like me and went to Pike Place to get the freshest ones possible, don’t be like me and forget to clean them until the last minute, not good times. Thankfully it came out ok, but it was more stress than I wanted. If you find you have very dirty mollusks the best thing to do is to soak them in a bowl with clod water and flour. They will then let go of the sand and eat the flour, or so I was told and it works for me.
***- Scallops and Scampi or head of shrimp are costly. There is not getting around it. If you buy a nice big diver scallop you are gonna pay a pretty penny. I don’t mind that, especially if I can cook it properly and enjoy it! That said, I don’t think steaming them on top of the paella gives them to best flavor or me the most control over doneness. So I fry these separately in a skillet with a little olive oil and maybe a crushed garlic clove. This allows me to ensure that I not only cook these pricey and delicious ingredients to a perfect doneness, but it also allows me to get a nice brown crust on them.
^ – When you are buying the scampi or shrimp ask the fishmonger to clean them and leave the shell and skin on. This is easy enough for them to do. If your fishmonger is good enough to carry head on shrimp and huge scampi odds are good he can clean them for you. The presentation and flavor are just so much better when the shell is still on them.