Paella. Just the sound of it gets me salivating! Great paella is a symphony of flavors layered one on top of the other, the chorizo and shrimp and chicken leading the way, with supporting players saffron, Valencia rice, red peppers, onions, and garlic joining in to crescendo on your palate. Okay, had enough of bad symphony metaphors? How about if I just tell you that I've been looking for an excellent, easy-to-make paella to have at home for years. Thanks to a recent article on Leite's Culinaria, one of my favorite food sites, another culinary goal has been achieved. This recipe is remarkably easy, quick, and I think delivers one of the best paellas I've had. Plus I got to pull out the Cadillac of cookware, the Le Creuset! w and I had it last night night with its perfect wine foil, a chilled bottle of rosé. Yum! We were both supremely pleased, and best of all: Leftovers!!
*** *** ***
by the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated
from Cooking at Home with America’s Test Kitchen 2006
via Leite's Culinaria
This recipe is for making paella in a Dutch oven (the Dutch oven should be 11 to 12
inches in diameter with at least a 6-quart capacity). With minor modifications, it can
also be made in a paella pan. Cured Spanish chorizo is the sausage of choice for
paella, but fresh chorizo or linguiça is an acceptable substitute.
Soccarat, a layer of crusty browned rice that forms on the bottom of the pan, is a
traditional part of paella. In our version, soccarat does not develop because most of
the cooking is done in the oven. We have provided instructions to develop soccarat in
step 5; if you prefer, skip this step and go directly from step 4 to step 6.
1 pound extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
Salt and ground black pepper
8 or 9 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, each thigh trimmed of excess fat and
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut pole to pole into 1/2-inch-wide strips
8 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained, minced, and drained again
2 cups Valencia or Arborio rice
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
1 dried bay leaf
1 dozen mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position; heat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Toss the shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1
teaspoon of the garlic in a medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until
needed. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until
shimmering but not smoking. Add the pepper strips and cook, stirring occasionally,
until the skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the
pepper to a small plate and set aside.
3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to the now-empty Dutch oven; heat the oil until shimmering
but not smoking. Add the chicken pieces in a single layer; cook, without moving the
pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn the pieces and brown on the second
side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer the chicken to a medium bowl. Reduce the
heat to medium and add the chorizo to the pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply
browned and the fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer the chorizo to the
bowl with the chicken and set aside.
4. Add enough oil to the fat in the Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over
medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onion and cook, stirring
frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in the remaining garlic and cook
until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes; cook until the mixture begins to
darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in the rice and cook until the
grains are well coated with the tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken
broth, wine, saffron, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return the chicken and chorizo
to the pot, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, uncovered, stirring
occasionally. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven; cook until the rice absorbs
almost all of the liquid, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove the pot from the oven (close the oven door to retain heat). Uncover the
pot; scatter the shrimp over the rice, insert the mussels hinged-side down into the
rice (so they stand upright), arrange the bell pepper strips in a pinwheel pattern, and
scatter the peas over the top. Cover and return to the oven; cook until the shrimp
are opaque and the mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.
6. Optional: If soccarat (see headnote) is desired, set the Dutch oven, uncovered,
over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, rotating the pot 180 degrees after
about 2 minutes for even browning.
7. Let the paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not
opened and the bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle with the parsley and
serve, passing the lemon wedges separately.