Monday, September 15, 2014

John's version of "The Ultimate Paella Recipe"

John and Phoebus were leading the paella brigade this weekend, and it was a resounding success!

My parents recently gifted us a ginormous outdoor paella-pan-kit-stand-insan-o-propane-cooker-thing (I'm not sure what the formal name for it is...) and John thought that my birthday was the perfect time to welcome it to the farmhouse.

He tracked down this "Ultimate Paella Recipe" from Tyler Florence, and with a couple of tweaks, made it his own. And it was fantastic. And plentiful. (We still have servings for six in our fridge...)

Ingredients: (Supposedly serves 4-6, but ours served 8-10, easily...) 

Spice Mix for chicken (recipe below)

1 (3-pound) frying chicken, cut into 10 pieces
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Spanish onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
4 cups short grain Spanish rice
6 cups water, warm
Generous pinch saffron threads
1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed 
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
2 lobster tails 

1/2 cup sweet peas, frozen and thawed
Lemon wedges, for serving

Notes from the chef (John): 
*John skipped the clams altogether, and no one missed them. There was so many other delicious ingredients, they really didn't seem necessary... 

** John couldn't get a hold of lobster tails upstate, so he went with king-crab legs instead. A total success!! 

Notes from me: I'm of the opinion that you can never add too many peas to paella. So you could do something like 1 cup, and I'd be a happy camper... Just sayin'... 

Special equipment:

Large paella pan or wide shallow skillet

Spice Mix for chicken:

1 tablespoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Rub the spice mix all over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Heat oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat. Saute the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Add chicken skin-side down and brown on all sides, turning with tongs. Add salt and freshly ground pepper. Remove from pan and reserve.

In the same pan, make a sofrito by sauteing the onions, garlic, and parsley. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes on a medium heat. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit and the flavors meld. Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in water and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron. Add the clams and shrimp, tucking them into the rice. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. Give the paella a good shake and let it simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 15 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, when the rice is filling the pan, add the lobster tails. When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it's perfect.

Cook's note: The ideal paella has a toasted rice bottom called socarrat. One of our guests this weekend said this crust is also called "The Cookie." It's the best part of the paella, so let it sit a little bit to get that crunchy layer. Yum!! 

Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Garnish with peas, parsley and lemon wedges.

Spice Mix for chicken:
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken; marinate for 1 hour, covered. 

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