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Paella al Estilo del Chef Zach

The foundation of all Western rice-based entrees, paella is Spain’s crown dish.  Regional varieties offer some with all seafood, some with surf and sky, some even with rabbit.  But the three things that unite all paellas are saffron, fresh ingredients (from sources as local as possible, preferably), and an open flame.  Cooking on a stove top instead of in the oven results in the desired texture of rice with just slightest bit of firmness.

Makes 8-10

48 oz. of organic chicken broth

3 cups of arborio rice

3 cups of water

3 bone-in chicken thighs (pull the skin off yourself; you want them skinless, but save the money)

1 lb. of large, cleaned, peeled, raw prawns

18 farm-raised black mussels

12 farm-raised little neck clams

1 1/2 cups of white wine

12 oz. of frozen peas

12 oz. of kielbasa

5 organic carrots

5 stalks of organic celery

1 large onion

1 large red bell pepper

6 whole garlic cloves

4 tbs. of extra virgin olive oil

1 tbs. of saffron threads in 1 cup of warm water, having soaked for at least 3 minutes

2 tsp. of kosher salt

1/2 tsp. of cracked black pepper

caramelize the carrots, celery, garlic, and onion

caramelize the carrots, celery, garlic, and onion

Roughly chop the carrots and celery.  Peel and halve the onion.  Cut one of the onion halves in half again, and put this with the carrots, celery, and garlic cloves in a large stock pot with 2 tbs. of olive oil over medium heat.  Cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to caramelize.

add the stock and saffron

add the stock and saffron

Deglaze the stock pot with the wine.  Add the chicken stock, saffron, saffron water, and 3 cups of water, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to medium-low and let simmer for no more than 30 minutes; too much time can cause the vegetables to make the stock bitter.  Strain the vegetables when done and discard the solids, leaving just the liquid.

brown the chicken

brown the chicken

In a large paella pan, heat the remaining 2 tbs. of olive oil on medium heat.  Put the bone-in, skinless chicken thighs on the surface and begin to lightly brown the meat, about 5 minutes on each side.  In the meantime, remove the seeds of the bell pepper, then evenly dice the pepper and the remaining onion.

add the rest of the fresh veggies

add the rest of the fresh veggies

Move the chicken to the side of the pan, and add the bell pepper and onion.  Cook for about 7-8 minutes until the onion is translucent and the pepper softened, but you don’t want to brown these yet – if you see them starting to brown, reduce the heat.

add the kielbasa

add the kielbasa

Cut the kielbasa in 1″ chunks, and add to the paella pan.  Let cook for an additional 4 minutes.

saute the rice

saué the rice

Remove the chicken from the pan so that it is easier to stir in the rice.  It is essential that the rice grains all have the chance to be evenly coated by the pan oils, and ingredients need to be evenly mixed.  Nestle and somewhat submerge the chicken back into the rice, evenly spaced, after the rice has been sufficiently coated.

add the stock

add the stock

Pour in 2 1/2 to 3 cups of the stock.  Bring back to a simmer, still on medium heat, and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the rice is about three-quarters of the way cooked.  Keep adding stock through those 15 minutes, with 1/2 to 1 cup at a time to maintain the rice continuously submerged.

dump in the frozen peas

dump in the frozen peas

When the rice hits the three-quarter mark, add the frozen peas.  Also add the seafood, slightly nestling it similar to how you placed the chicken.  Whatever stock remains, add that as well.  Cover the pan with foil (it may require a few pieces to span the width).  Let sit for 10 minutes more, then remove from heat and let sit for an additional 5 minutes, still with the foil cover.

voilà

voilà

Peel away the foil and serve immediately.

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Posted on May 16, 2013, in Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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