Hubby’s cousin, Rina, came for a short vacation with us last week. During one of our dinner conversations, we realized that she, hubby and I have one thing in common…we all long for Spanish food, namely, Paella and Canonigo. Because this is something we can’t ask visiting relatives from the Philippines to squeeze into their Samsonite luggage, I decided right there and then that we will have a Paella Night while Rina was with us. I originally planned on having it on a Friday night (September 11th), but because we wanted to squeeze in an out-of-town trip, Paella Night turned into a Paella Lunch…a very very late one at that!
It was just my luck that on Labor Day, September 7th, I scored a Spanish paella pan at Sur La Table at 40% off. It’s a 13.5″ paella pan, priced originally at $19.95. I got it for only $11.96. Woot! ;)
So last Friday, I treated my family and our guest to a little trip to Spain, albeit gastronomically, via Chicken and Shrimp Paella and for dessert, Canonigo (to be featured in an upcoming entry)…
Our little trip to Spain took longer than expected. Lunch was not served until 3pm! :D It was my very first attempt at cooking paella. Hopefully, the 2nd time won’t take as long. For this paella, I took my cue from a Mario Batali recipe on Oprah.com. I had to make some substitutions and adjustments. A good thing about paella is that it is a blank canvas, and one is pretty much free to use the ingredients he or she fancies: seafood, chicken, pork, etc.
Here’s the (adjusted!) recipe good for a 13.5″ to 14″ paella pan, which serves 6:
20-25 pieces boneless chicken thighs (approx. 2″ x 2″ each)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 lb. medium shrimps
1 medium onion , cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 tsp. kosher salt , or to taste
1 tsp. saffron threads
1-2 Tbsp. paprika
2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups bomba or other short grain rice
3/4 cup green peas
10 spears pencil asparagus , stalks cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch thick slices
1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and cook on a stove top grill which has been coated with non-stick cooking spray. Alternatively, you can bake the chicken (seasoned with salt) in a 400F oven for 20-25 minutes. Set aside.
2. Heat a 14- to 18-inch paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and heat until smoking. Add the shrimp and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
3. Add the onion to the pan and cook until soft, about 8 minutes. Push the onions into the center of the pan and sprinkle some salt (about 1/2 to 1 Tbsp around the edges of the pan.
4. Add the tomato puree, stirring it into the onions, and cook for 3 minutes. Add some salt (to taste), the saffron, paprika and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
5. Add chicken stock, bring to a boil, and cook for 5 minutes.
6. Add the rice and stir well to distribute it evenly. Add shrimps, drumsticks, arranging them nicely throughout the pan. Then add the peas and asparagus and bring the stock back to a boil, and cook, without stirring, for 10 minutes.
7. Taste for salt and add it if needed, then cook, again without stirring, for 10 more minutes, or until the liquid is almost completely absorbed and the pan starts to make a crackling noise (don’t worry, this is what you want).
8. Remove from the heat, cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
The original recipe calls for sweet pimenton, which I could not get my hands on, so I used regular paprika instead. Also, I did not pour all of the chicken stock at once, as it would have overflowed. I initially poured just enough that it wouldn’t spill out of the pan when it started to boil. I added the rest of the chicken stock later on when the amount of stock in the pan has already reduced.
The beauty of having lunch at 3pm is that everyone’s already so hungry, so much so that we all had more than a single helping of the paella…and several helpings more of the canonigo. ;) Paella lunch, as Rina would say, was “successful”. :D
Have a great week ahead, y’all! Coming up next, my Canonigo entry. ;)