Wednesday, January 06, 2010
My Brother's Paella: The Recipe
Here it is -- my brother's recipe for paella. He notes that he is "comfortable calling this my paella recipe as long as people know that there is liberal interpretation necessary in the creation of good paella." He also notes that he lived in Spain for almost nine months. I think this makes him kind of an expert.
This paella is named after his host mother, Maria, and is based on the recipe she taught him in her small kitchen in Malaga, Spain.
6 chicken thighs (or one for each person - whichever you've got)
one pound uncooked chorizo sausage, sliced into 1/4" rounds
12-15 large prawns (raw)
12-15 mussels, clams or other mollusk
1/2 pound calamari (cones preferred)
one medium yellow onion
~ 2 cups frozen green peas
one whole roasted red pepper
one cup green olives (cocktail olives will do too)
3 cups arborio rice
41/2 cups chicken stock
1 cup fish stock or clam juice
one teaspoon saffron, crushed
3 cloves garlic
palmful of fresh thyme
pimentón (smoked paprika)
big palmful of fresh rosemary (fresh)
one bay leaf
one tablespoon Tabasco or other hot sauce (use less or more to taste)
copious amounts of Spanish olive oil
splash of wine - red or white is fine.
*a quick note on paella pans: deeper, dutch oven style pans make better paella. Many people think that the large flat pans that they see in photos and restaurants of Spain are necessary or best. Not true. Real Spanish cooks use deep dish.
1. Season the chicken by putting fresh rosemary, thyme, and olive oil underneath the skin and then top with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. Brown the chorizo in a large pot (le creuset, dutch oven, or paella pan) so that its oils release. Remove and set aside.
3. Brown the chicken thighs in the oil from the chorizo. Remove and set aside.
4. Dice the onion and brown it in the oils from the chorizo and chicken, adding 2 cloves garlic after ~ 10 minutes (be sure not to burn the garlic!!). Add a splash of wine to onions and de-glaze the pan a bit. No more than 1/2 cup should be necessary.
5. Add the dry rice to this mixture and allow it to permeate into the rice - brown 5 minutes, taking care not to burn the rice
6. Cover the rice with the combination of fish and chicken stock
7. Add fresh rosemary, thyme, saffron, bay leaf, pimentón, salt, and pepper, and tabasco
8. Once boil is established, place the chorizo in the mix and give it a stir to distribute it in the rice. Do the same for the mostly cooked chicken thighs, instead placing them in a ring around the pot with at least 1 inch distance from the side of the pan. Make sure they are well immersed in the rice, and covered by the liquid.
9. Let cook undisturbed for about 1.5 hours. Cook on the stovetop and not in the oven. This will allow a wonderful crust to form at the bottom of the pan.
10. once the rice is cooked (be sure to take a little taste here and check for seasoning too), leave the pot on the heat source to let a crust form around the bottom of the pan (best part). Add the frozen peas, roasted peppers, olives, prawns, calamari rings, and mussels. For the prawns and red pepper, form a spiral or spoke design from the middle of the pan. Add the calamari in good distribution by sticking the rings about 1/2" into the rice. Place the mussels hinge side up with good distribution. Add a quick glaze of Spanish olive oil across the top of everything, cover the pot, and let the seafood steam 5-10 minutes. Take care to make sure all seafood is cooked or opened (but not rubbery). Also take care not to burn the rice here (crust is good, burned is bad). Reduce or remove heat if needed.
11. Dig in. Add olive oil on top if you like.
Yes, it is a long and time consuming recipe. But is there anything better to do than cook during one of the first weeks of January?