Paella the Food of the Impromtu Hostess!
This recipe gives me warm fuzzies all over. My love affair with paella started when I was little because my mother had a Spanish friend named Felipa, who made her paella almost every weekend. She lived in New Jersey, so I got to see her during summer vacations, when my parents and I made the trek across the US in a pop up trailer. The final destination was our house in Barnegat Light, New Jersey. Felipa was about an hour’s drive away, so during the three months when we were there, she would make this dish every Saturday and we’d spend the evening, catching up and eating a delectably spicy, salty meal.
She always mixed chicken, chorizo and sometimes rabbit with whatever seafood she had and I always think of this dish as a buffet of different meats and flavors. In my version, I omitted the rabbit and used mussels but you can definitely get creative and use rabbit if you wish and add lobster, crab, clams or whatever else is available in your region.
WARNING: Do not make this dish if you don’t want company! It seems to have some magical property, which brings people together. As I was sweating in my hot kitchen and going through the steps, my mother knocked on the door. She dropped by because she had a thank you gift for one of my neighbors but wanted to see what I was doing. After questioning when it would be done, she asked how much I was making and I replied, “Enough to feed an army” and told her to let Wayne and Dorthea (my neighbors) know that I would have extra for them. Smiling, she headed off to the house next door.
About an hour later, as I was photographing my creation, she came out with Wayne and Dorthea in tow. At this juncture, the neighbor on the other side of me came out of her house and jokingly asked if there was a party. I informed her that I had plenty of paella, if she was hungry and she admitted that she loved paella and disappeared back into her house for a bottle of wine to go with it. Pretty soon, I had a party in my messy living room but no one seemed to notice and I have to admit that I loved catching up with everyone. I then got a phone call from a friend asking what I was doing and I informed him that I’d made paella. As you can probably guess, he was invited over and then there were 6. I remember Felipa always having a house full of people on Saturday night and I wonder if this was how the magic of paella worked for her.
My conclusion to all of this is that I’m going to make this dish more often. Yes it’s time intensive and takes the better part of two hours but it’s a dish that not only wants a party but seems to create one around it. Not to mention, it lends itself to being presented in a beautiful way. The $20 I spent on the paella pan is a sound investment in happiness. To me, it not only brings warm memories of the past but is a perfect vehicle for developing wonderful, new memories and honestly, couldn’t we all use more of those? Buen provecho!!! Hop over to Comfortable Hungry and visit Sam Bilton…this week she made sourdough bread and as always, she outdid herself! I have got to meet this woman in person. Hey Sam, I’ll bring the paella!
|Chorizo, Chicken and Mussel Paella||
- 7 cups of very strong chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp of saffron
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 a large onion
- 1 2.5 lb (approx) chicken (one more if you have a lot of guests)
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 lb chorizo (1 if you want less spice) cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1/4 lb of serrano ham, diced
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 1 large red pepper chopped
- 4 tsbs chopped garlic
- 1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 3 cups of Bomba, Calasparra or paella rice
- 5 tbs chopped parsley
- 2 bay leaves crumbled
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 lb of fresh or frozen peas
- 18 clams or mussels scrubbed
- lemon wedges for garnish
- roasted red pepper strips for garnish
- Heat the broth, saffron and the half of an onion. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the onion and measure the broth-you need 5.5 cups but can add the rest if you like a little more broth in your paella.
- Cut the chicken (or chickens) into small serving pieces–cut the breast into 4 parts, remove the wing tips and the bony end of the drumsticks. Dry the pieces and sprinkle with salt.
- In a paella pan (you can use a dutch oven but trust me, this is much better), heat the oil and brown the chicken pieces over high heat until golden on both sides. Remove to the oven and keep warm. Add the chorizo and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the ham and cook until warm. Add the chopped onion and garlic and saute until the onion is tender and cooked through. Add the shrimp and saute for about 3 minutes. Remove to the oven with the chicken.
- Add rice to the pan and stir to coat the rice in oil. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and the crumbled bay leaves. Stir in the wine and the chicken broth (make sure that the chicken broth is boiling hot when you add it).
- Add the peas and additional salt if desired and bring to a boil. Cook uncovered over medium heat for about 10 minutes. Bury the chicken and the shrimp in the rice. Add the clams and or mussel, pushing them down into the rice with the edge facing up so that they open upwards. Bake at 325 degrees F, uncovered for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit on the stove top, lightly covered in foil, for about 10 minutes. Decorate with lemons and roasted red pepper strips.
- Serve warm!