Sunday, July 20, 2008

No- Fuss Paella

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit friends that were studying abroad in Spain. It was a country I might not have visited on my own agenda, but since my friends were living there I decided it was a trip I needed to make. I didn't know what to expect before the trip, but I came away with a love of Spanish food and culture. I love their laid back attitude and late schedule (dinner at 10 or 11 pm!), and even on very poor student budgets we managed a few memorable meals during our trip.

I've attempted various tapas previously, like our Spanish Date Night, but for some reason Paella has always really intimidated me. I think it's the shellfish, or maybe the wide paella pans that you're supposed to use. Either way, it was not something I planned on making myself, until I recently ran across a simple sounding version in Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals 2. Some Rachael Ray recipes make me cringe, but this one seemed like an authentic version of a complicated entree. The recipe calls for saffron, shellfish, and chorizo, which made me feel like it wasn't too much of a shortcut recipe.

Joe and I went to the Fish Guy to get the mussels and shrimp, and I was very impressed with the knowledgeable staff there. The prices are not the cheapest, but you know you're getting high quality when you shop there. I hope to have the chance to shop there more, but their 6:00 closing time during the week is pretty much impossible for me to get to in time. We got the chorizo at Harvest Time, the Mexican grocery store right near my house. It was amazing on its own, and even better in the paella. I am going to have to think of other uses for chorizo, because I want to eat more of it!

This was a typical "30 minutes, but actually an hour" type of Rachael Ray recipe. The result was delicious, but it was not as quick and easy as she promised. Cleaning the mussels took a decent amount of work, and we boiled the shrimp shells with veggies and stock to add more flavor. It was a fantastic meal, though, and not far from the paella I've had before. This was one of those fun Sunday night recipes that I dedicate half the day to, but it is worth the effort when it turns out so great!

Paella for Eight

from Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals 2

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

2 cups enriched white rice

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

1 bay leaf

1 quart chicken broth or stock

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into thirds

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

3/4 pound chorizo, casing removed and sliced on an angle

1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp, 24 shrimp

18 green lipped mussels, cleaned

1 cup frozen peas

2 lemons zested

Garnish: 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

4 scallions, chopped

Lemon wedges

Crusty bread, for passing

In a very wide pan or paella pan, preheated over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, add rice and saute 2 or 3 minutes. Add saffron threads, bay leaf, broth, and thyme and bring liquids to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with lid or foil and reduce heat to simmer.

In a separate nonstick skillet, over medium high heat brown chicken on both sides in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add peppers and onions to the pan and cook 3 minutes longer. Add chorizo to the pan and cook 2 minutes more. Remove pan from heat.

After about 13 minutes, add shellfish to the rice pan, nesting them in cooking rice. Pour in peas, scatter lemon zest over the rice and seafood, then cover the pan again. After 5 minutes, remove cover or foil from the paella and discard any unopened mussel shells. Stir rice and seafood mixture and lift out bay and thyme stems, now bare of their leaves. Arrange cooked chicken and peppers, onions and chorizo around the pan. Top with parsley and scallions. Serve with wedges of lemon and warm bread.

1 comment:

Joelen said...

This looks awesome Erin! You could even submit this to the Tapas/Sangria blogging event I'm hosting (and maybe win the blogging event giveaway prize!) Details are in my blog and you can submit it up through Saturday and I hope you do! :)