As I cleaned my freezer today, I stumbled upon the last piece of the "Jabugo Chorizo" I have been saving for a special occasion to make paella with. Surprisingly, I also have some prawns from Louisiana, a box of New Zealand mussels and package of calamari I got from last week's food rummaging trip at the farmers market. Well, It shouldn't actually be a surprise that I have all these since I tend to hoard food. Guess what's for dinner? Si -- PAELLA.
Moving to the crisper -- red bell pepper, check. Green bell pepper, check. Green beans, check. Fava beans, nada... well, I'll substitute it with some soybeans, a staple at my house, so, check. Moving to the spice rack -- saffron, check. Smoked dulce paprika, check. I know that somewhere in the cupboard, I have bomba rice, tomatoes, garlic, onions and olives (another staple at my house). I love snacking on olives as much as I love them with my dirty martinis.
If I have a signature dish, it would be Paella. Growing up, my Mama would prepare this dish only for Fiestas and Pascua (Christmas), thus, categorized as the special dish in our home alongside Pescado Relleno. Her recipe, which I typically use, makes use of short sweet rice instead of bomba and chickpeas in place of Fava beans. Most people think that paella is intimidating to cook, but it really is not. The key to making good paella is using the right pan and evenly distributed heat. The only spice you need to make a very good paella is saffron and smoked paprika ( I use dulce).
This recipe uses white wine. As a rule, I use the wine that I will serve with the food for cooking. In this case I'm using Vhino Verde (Portugese), although, I doubt that there would still be enough for serving by the time I finish cooking *wink*. Personally, I prefer a good Rioja - a Muga perhaps, or a Campo de Viejo to go with Paella, but then again, I am very partial to Spanish Reds.
6 tbsp white wine
1 lb mussels, scrubbed
1 cup fava beans (in this case soybeans)
5 oz green beans
6 tbsp olive oil
1 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast, bite pieces
1 lbs prawns
1 lbs squid/calamari
1 large Spanish onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
3 1/2 cups chicken stock**
pinch of saffron in 2 tbsp of hot water
1 1/2 cups paella rice, washed and drained**
8 oz chorizo, sliced diagonally
10 pcs olives
smoked paprika, salt and pepper
**I used bomba rice, which soaks up very large quantities of liquid while remaining very firm-grained during cooking. It could take up two to three times the level of liquid you'd use for standard Spanish rice.
Heat the wine and add the mussels. Discard any that do not close when tapped. Cover and steam until opened. Reserve the liquid and mussels separately. Discard any that do not open. If using blanched half shells like I did, arrange them in a steamer, put a dash of white wine, sprinkle with sea salt and steam for 5 minutes.
Briefly cook the soybeans and green beans in boiling water, then drain and run cold water to stop from cooking. Pop the soybeans out of the shell.
Heat oil in paella pan. Season the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika. Brown chicken and set aside. Do the same with the shrimp and the calamari. Tip: I usually cook the chicken, seafood and vegetable about "3 minutes under cooked" so the additional cooking it will go through when mixed with the rice won't toughen the chicken & seafood or make the veggies soggy.
Heat the remaining oil. Saute the chopped garlic and onion until garlic is fragrant. Add tomatoes, & tomato paste, then the rice. Add chicken stock, the reserve mussel liquid, the saffron liquid and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring every now and then to make sure that the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. When the all the liquid is almost absorbed by the rice, stir in everything except for mussels and olives. Lower heat, cover pan with foil, and cook for another 10 -12 minutes, moving pan every 2-3 minutes to evenly cook the rice. Alternatively, you can cook it in a 350 F oven for 15-18 minutes or until rice is done. Arrange the mussels and olives on the top before serving.