HER: This dish has a backstory.
In our early explorations and as we became closer, a lot of our talks involved food. We knew our individual cores were fueled by cooking and culinary discovery. During one of those important conversations, we talked about paella, Spain, and an ill-fated paella pan. Our dreams were forming in those early moments. We couldn't wait for a lifetime of kitchen adventures together.
The first gift I received from Him was a copper hand-hammered paella pan (or paellera). I immediately knew how special it would be to me, to us. We said we would cook in it when we moved in together. It was so beautiful, I couldn't bear the thought. I was obsessing over its beauty becoming flawed, when the truth was, the beauty would come with years of attention and love. This is an heirloom in the making.
It's been almost 2 years since we've had this pan, and it finally made its debut last night. This has been one of our favorite encounters in the kitchen. Please enjoy...paella!
PAELLA (inspired by iamafoodblog.com) | serves 4
Prep this ahead of time, so everything is easily within your reach:
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 tsp of saffron (steep in 1/4 cup of hot water)
- 4 chicken thighs, bone-in (seasoned with salt/pepper)
- 3-4 chorizo links (remove from casings and crumble)
- 12 littleneck clams
- 12 large shrimp (deveined and peeled, tail on)
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 3 plum tomatoes (grated and skins discarded)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red pepper, cut into half-strips
- 1 TB smoked paprika
- 6 1/2 cups of chicken broth
- 2 cups of medium grain rice
- 3 tsp of sea salt
- lemon wedges
- chopped scallion to taste
|We're going to need a bigger board.|
When the pan is hot, add in the chicken, skin sides down. Careful not to crowd the chicken so that you get a good sear on the skin. Add the chorizo and shrimp. The shrimp will cook quickly, so when they turn pink, remove them from the pan and set aside.
Turn the chicken over after about 5 minutes and keep searing the chorizo as the chicken cooks. Add the paprika, garlic, tomatoes, and onion. Saute until onion is translucent, then add the chicken broth and the saffron/water mix. Turn it up to high heat and bring to a boil.
Once it's boiling, it's time to add the rice! Make sure it's evenly distributed by moving and jiggling the chicken around in the pan. Add in the red peppers. Don't stir the rice after this point. Cook on med-high (but still boiling) about 12 minutes or until most of the rice has absorbed the liquid. You will have to keep rotating the pan at this point to avoid hot spots and get an evenly cooked paella.
Steam the clams* separately to avoid burning the paella.In the meantime, get a small sauce pan over med-high heat. Add some olive oil and garlic to saute. Then add a little broth or water (about a 1/4 cup). Bring to a boil and add the clams. Cover until the clams pop open, and nestle them into the paella.
*This was a lesson learned. When we tried to add the clams straight to the pan, they took a very long time to open. This caused the bottom of our paella to be more done than desired, so we would recommend this separate method.
Once the 12 minutes is up, turn down the pan to LOW. Add the cooked clams and shrimp. Cook for about 5 minutes more until the liquid is absorbed.
Turn up the heat to HIGH for 1-2 minutes, until you hear a crackling sound or smell the aroma of toasted (not burning!) rice. This is the rice getting crispy on the bottom, and forming a socarrat (toasted rice). A socarrat is essential to a good paella.
Remove from heat, garnish with lemon wedges and scallions.
There are many different versions of paella. This is just one! Get creative and play with ingredients by using more meat, or just veg. It's your paella!