I've been getting bored of having the same thing for dinner again and again, so lately I've been trying to think out of the box and try new things. One of my self-imposed challenges, was taking on Paella, which I've avoided like the plague for years. Paella has always seemed like something too difficult and cumbersome to take on, so I've never tried and was supremely ignorant on how to make it or what even went into it. When I finally decided to make Paella, I found a variety of recipes, no two ever exactly alike, and yet all seemed quite easy to prepare.
I'm not a huge seafood fan, so I knew that I only wanted to have chicken, chorizo and shrimp. I searched high and low for recipes and finally decided on a Tyler Florence recipe(of all recipes!) from the Food Network website. It had all of the ingredients that I wanted in my Paella and good reviews, so I figured why not.
The whole process was actually pretty easy. First you marinate your chicken thighs in some spices, I did my standard garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and oregano with a touch of paprika. While that's getting happy, you saute some chorizo pieces in olive oil. Any dry chorizo will work well, but if you can get your hands on good dry Spanish chorizo, go for it! When it's browned, you take it out and fry up your chicken pieces and then move the chicken to a paper towel with your chorizo. Take a few moments to reflect upon your beautifully browned meat mountain and then go back to your frying pan and saute onions, garlic, and parsley.
You then add in your hand-crushed tomatoes, and rice and let that cook for a bit. Then in goes the meat and saffron, yum! If you're adding any seafood, this is when you would do it. We added shrimp, but honestly I would forgo the shrimp next time and add more chicken and chorizo. You let that cook for a good 15 minutes.
When that's done, you add the thawed frozen peas on top and cook for 5 minutes without stirring. The peas will cook from the steam and the heat from the rice. Now this is the part where I messed up, I guess I had too much wine while preparing my meal because I didn't notice that it said to turn the heat up at the end to get that nice toasted bottom on the rice. I'm definitely making note of that for next time though!
That's really all there is to paella, easy right? Well, kind of, you want to make sure you have the right rice and the right pan. I used arborio rice because I couldn't find any Spanish short or medium grain rice at my local stores. The arborio worked out fine for me and I'd use it again in a pinch. This really great article on paella goes into more detailon the type of rice and pan to use. They suggest not using a cast iron pan because it heats too quickly. I used a regular stainless steel skillet and it did the job just fine. I've included the full recipe below with notes. Give it a try and tell me what you think!
The Ultimate Paella - Tyler Florence
- Spice Mix for chicken, recipe follows
- 1 (3-pound) frying chicken, cut into 10 pieces (I used boneless chicken thighs)
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced (I used Goya chorizo)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 Spanish onion, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced (not called for, but I used it anyway)
- 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 (I used Italian Arborio risotto rice)
- 6 cups water, warm (I used 3 cups of chicken stock and 3 cups of water)
- Generous pinch saffron threads
- 1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed (omitted)
- 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined (I used 6 large shrimp)
- 2 lobster tails (omitted)
- 1/2 cup sweet peas, frozen and thawed
- Lemon wedges, for serving
- 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
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the chicken; marinate for 1 hour, covered