Spanish Paella with Saffron
3 cups bomba or calasparra rice (arborio risotto works as a substitute)
8 cups chicken stock
1 large onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large bell pepper, diced
10 -15 flat green beans
4 plum tomatoes, diced
0.5(4 ounce) can tomato paste
15 large shrimp (feel free to add clams, calamari, prawns or mussels as well)
2 -3 lbs rabbit, chicken, or other meat
4 links chorizo sausages, frito sliced into 1 inch pieces
1⁄2 cup fresh parsley
2 -3 tablespoons fresh thyme
1⁄2 tablespoon paprika
3 lemons, quartered
- It's best to have all of your ingredients prepared before you start cooking.
- Prepare the rabbit or chicken by separating the legs, cutting remaining meat into small slices and lightly salting. (In my area rabbit is seasonal. During the summer and fall I substitute with chicken legs).
- I peel my shrimp, leaving only the tail and then salt them. In Spain they tend to leave the shrimp unshelled.
- I always try to make my chicken stock from scratch (time permitting), adding a bit of rosemary, a tiny pinch of saffron and a bit of thyme. If you're going to use bouillon, I'd recommend at least heating it up with these herbs and then straining before you start.
- Keep your stock hot but not boiling as you cook.
- Coat the bottom of your pallera/pan with olive oil.
- Brown your chorizo over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Do not fully cook, just get the outside well browned. Set aside. This should add a nice red color and a hell of a flavor to your oil.
- Brown the Rabbit for 2-3 minutes. It should not be fully cooked. Set aside.
- Brown garlic, onion and bell pepper until they're softened, adding plum tomatoes shortly before the mixture is finished.
- Push the vegetables to one side of the pan and on the other add the half can of tomato paste. Caramelize it, flipping it and spreading it until it begins to loosen (1-2 min over hight heat).
- Mix all of the vegetables and meats together with the caramelized tomato paste also adding the paprika, parsley and thyme.
- Add rice, mixing together and stirring as the rice browns (1-1 1/2) minutes. As the rice browns mix in the saffron. Make sure to break it between your fingers and stir it in to release all those tasty oils.
- When the rice is slightly translucent add enough chicken stock to cover the whole mixture. If it's been kept warm, it will begin to boil almost immediately. Lower to a medium heat but keep it at a steady boil.
- This is where paella is made and broken. I stir a few times in the first 5-10 minutes, adding broth as necessary to keep the rice fully covered. After this you must let the paella SIT! Let it cook another 10-20 minutes (I find that this step takes longer on a stovetop), adding broth bit by bit to keep the rice submerged until the rice on the top is al dente. Don't worry about rice burning to the bottom, this part (which actually has a name which escapes me at the moment, it's something like socarrat) is a tasty delicacy.
- Once you've stirred the paella for the last time and are letting cook, when you have about 8 minutes left to cook lay shrimp on top, turning over after 2-4 minutes to cook other side.
- When the rice on top is still quite al dente, take paella off of heat and cover. You must let it sit for 15-20 minutes. I've taken the lid off prematurely and ended up with a crunchy mess. Patience is the key.
- Once you're sure it's ready uncover, garnish with lemon wedges and enjoy!