Paella

Chicken, Chorizo and Shrimp Paella

My cooking club had a Tapa’s night and one of the dishes I made was Paella.  A traditional rice dish made with short grain rice and regional ingredients, Paella is a main course entrée that can be vegetarian, seafood, pork, chicken, rabbits, snails, or any combination you desire.  Paella utilizes rice as the foundation and then easy accessible ingredients, so if you order it near the coast you are likely to have a seafood paella, where as inland you are more likely to get chicken and sausage or a game meat.

In other words, the varieties are endless…  the basic ingredients – rice, tomato, onion, pepper and saffron are the only common ingredients.  At our Tapas party, I choose to make a chorizo, chicken and shrimp variety.

I cooked the Paella in a traditional flat pan that I picked up at Bed Bath and Beyond for around $20.  Certainly not one of the beautiful copper varieties you occasionally see, but then I don’t make Paella very often and I use a stove not the campfire or BBQ so the pan doesn’t have to hold up to traditional methods on that end.

Paella – By Debra Crawford
Serves 6 main course, or approximately 20 appetizer size

1 –   Lb Fresh Chorizo (removed from casing)
1 –   Lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (cut into 1″ cubes)
1 –   Large Onion (approximately 1 1/2 cups) diced
2 –   Large Roma Tomatoes diced
1 –  Red, Green or Yellow Pepper (diced)  (if you like it spicy, choose a hotter pepper for this)
3 –  Cloves Garlic, Minced
18 – Large Shrimp, Cleaned and Deveined, Tails On
2 –  Teaspoons Smoked Paprika
1 –  Teaspoon Salt
1/2 – Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 –  Teaspoon Cumin
1 –  Small Pinch Saffron Threads, (approximately 15 threads)
1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro, Lightly Chopped
5 –  Cups Chicken Stock
Olive Oil
1 – Red, Orange or Yellow Pepper for Garnish

Add the paprika, salt, cumin and black pepper to the chicken and mix well.  Let set to marinate the spices into the meat while you chop and get the other ingredients ready.

Add the saffron threads to a small bowl and cover with stock, allowing the saffron to start infusing color.  Set aside.

Heat paella pan over the burner and add the chorizo to the pan.  When it has been cooking a few minutes add the onion and tomatoes and the pepper.  When the mixture is softened, approximately 5 minutes, push it to the sides, add some olive oil in the center and brown the chicken pieces.  When the chicken is lightly brown mix all together, then add the rice.  Stir together and cook the rice mixture for a couple minutes then add the chicken stock and saffron.  Bring to a boil, then simmer until the rice is almost done, about 20 minutes.  Stir very slightly and turn the pan every so often so the cooking is even.

Add the shrimp and cilantro, stir lightly into the mixture and cook until rice is done and liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes more.  If the rice starts to stick on the bottom, this is ok to brown it a little, but be careful not to scorch.  The crunchy bottom is actually desirable and adds flavor to the dish.

When the rice is done, remove from heat and cover tightly with foil.  Let rest 20 minutes, garlic with sliced peppers and serve.

Paella – Step 1
Paella Step 2
Paella Step 3 – Simmering

Paella Step 4 – Adding Shrimp
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