Paella

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Complex

  • Serves

    6

Appears in

The Mediterranean Kitchen

By Joyce Goldstein

Published 1998

  • About

Paella puts people in a party mood. It is a very colorful creation and a little messy to eat, so guests seem to relax and throw themselves into the spirit of the dish. Be sure to provide nutcrackers for all, a large bowl for the empty shells, and then warm wet towels or bowls of lemon water and towels for the after-dinner cleanup.

Although it may seem complicated and time consuming, most of the work can be done well ahead of time and the dish assembled in the last ten minutes. The following recipe serves six, but you may increase it at will. The more, the merrier!

Ingredients

Marinade

  • 3 tablespoons dried oregano, toasted in small skillet until fragrant
  • 3 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • 5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely ground pepper
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 6 large chicken thighs, excess fat trimmed
  • 1 pound chorizo in casings, prepared or homemade
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 6 large artichoke hearts, cut into 8 wedges each
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 live lobsters (over pounds each) or 3 live Dungeness crabs (about 2 pounds each)
  • 1 pound medium or large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 48 Manila clams or 36 mussels, scrubbed
  • 2 large yellow onions, cut into medium dice
  • 2 large green peppers, cut into medium dice
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 cups diced drained canned plum tomatoes
  • 4 to 6 cups Chicken Stock
  • 8 quarts water
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 4 cups basmati rice
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons saffron threads
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup fresh peas, blanched (optional)
  • 2 roasted red peppers, cut into strips (optional)

Method

First, marinate the chicken thighs: Combine the oregano, garlic, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a bowl or mortar; mash to a paste with the back of a spoon or the pestle. Whisk in the olive oil. Rub the marinade over the chicken thighs and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prick the chorizo with a fork and bake them on a baking sheet about 25 minutes. Let stand until cool enough to handle, then cut into 1-inch chunks. Pour the fat into a small bowl and set aside.

To cook the artichokes, heat ¼ cup oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the artichoke hearts and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not mushy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If you’re not cooking the paella until the next day, store the artichokes in the refrigerator.

To cook the lobsters or crabs (or both if you are feeling extravagant), heat a large pot of water to boiling. Salt the water and add the lobsters or crabs. Cook the lobsters 6 minutes and the crabs 10 minutes. Immediately remove them from the water and place in an ice bath to cool.

If using lobsters, cut off the tails and cut the meat into sections keeping it in the shell. Crack the claws and reserve the legs for garnish. Store in the refrigerator.

If using crabs, remove the top shell and save the juices. Remove and discard the gills and tail pieces. Crack the claws with a mallet and cut the bodies into 4 pieces each. Rinse the bodies well. Store in the refrigerator.

Shell and devein the shrimp, keeping the tails intact if you like, and refrigerate. Scrub the clams and keep them covered in water in the refrigerator. Beard and scrub the mussels and keep them covered with ice in the refrigerator up to 1 day.

Up to 6 hours before serving, cook the chicken: Heat ½ cup olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken thighs and brown well on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes.

To make the base, heat about ¼ cup olive oil and the reserved chorizo fat in a large heavy saucepan over low heat. Add the onions, peppers, garlic, and ground coriander; cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and 4 cups chicken stock and add the chicken thighs. Heat to boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer covered until the chicken is tender, about 20 minutes; add more stock if this mixture becomes too thick. Remove the chicken pieces and set aside. Taste the base and add more oregano, garlic, salt, and pepper if needed. The base should be lively!

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat the water in a large pot to boiling. Add ¼ cup salt and drop in the rice. Cook uncovered over medium heat until a kernel just tests done when you bite it, about 10 minutes. Immediately drain the rice with warm water.

Meanwhile, warm the wine in a small saucepan and add the saffron. Let stand at least 10 minutes. Melt the butter and stir in the saffron infusion. Coat a shallow baking pan, such as a lasagne pan, with some of the melted butter. Pour in the rice and drizzle with the remaining butter. Cover the pan with foil and bake 25 minutes. Keep warm.

To assemble the paella, place the clams or mussels in a large wide pan. Thin the base with more chicken stock if necessary, heat to boiling, and add half to the clams or mussels. Cover and cook over high heat until all the shells open. Combine the chicken thighs, lobsters or crabs, artichokes, chorizo, shrimp, and remaining base in a second large wide pan. Simmer covered over medium heat until heated through, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the clams or mussels and peas if using during the last 2 minutes. Garnish with the little lobster legs and the red pepper strips.

Spoon the rice into individual serving bowls or a very large platter, then spoon the chicken and seafood mixture over top. Serve at once and enjoy!