Sunday, July 8, 2012


Have you ever had paella?  It is to die for (well not really).  How adventurous are you?  It has many of my very favorite foods in it.  I love seafood, chicken, chorizo and rice.  Just looking at it, makes my mouth water.  This is a dish for very special occasions because of the cost involved.  But you should try it once if you have never had it.   

Believe it or not, paella is traditionally a Spanish poor man’s dish where seafood is in abundance along the Mediterranean.  Oh to live by the sea and have cheap fresh seafood available.  It is like a Southern gumbo, you can toss in what ever you have like frog legs or snails.  To cut down your costs if it is too expensive you can cut down the proteins or change them up.  I want to have the chorizo, chicken and at least one seafood.  This makes a huge pan and is meant to be served family style to a large group of people.  It is cooked outdoors often in Spain and is like a picnic.   The original recipe takes a long time to simmer so it is filled with much love.  I kept in the love, but tried to shorten the cooking time by doing some pre-cooking and made it a little simpler.  It is still going to take some time.  Read the entire recipe first.  That should apply to any recipe.  

Seafood and Chicken Paella with Chorizo

6 ounces smoked chorizo, casings removed 
1 small chopped onion
2 chopped garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
2 cup Arborio rice
1 pinch of saffron dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water (See below for substitute)
3 1/4  cups of chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 pound medium frozen shrimp, shelled and deveined 
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded (I use frozen)
6  chicken thighs (bone in)
2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
4 chopped scallions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Salt and pepper 6 chicken thighs with bones in and roast in the oven until they are completely cooked.  Set aside.  You can do this well ahead of time and refrigerate or used left over roast chicken.

Heat a large 12 inch skillet.  Add lemon and 1/4 cup of chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add your mussels and put on lid and steam for 3 minutes until they have opened.  Do not use if a mussel does not open.  Toss it out.  I take the mussels out of the shells for the paella.  Some people like the shells in but I do all the work for the person eating.  Set the mussels aside.

In a large 12 inch skillet (make sure you have a good fitting lid for it) add the onion and garlic to olive oil and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened.  Add your sliced smoked chorizo.  Stir in the tomatoes, rice, saffron with its liquid, and the 3 cups of chicken broth. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, without stirring, until the rice is al dente and the liquid is absorbed, 20 minutes.  Test rice by tasting.  Do not stir.  If still not al dente, put lid back on and cook another 5 minutes.

It is time to assemble the paella.  Add your mussels, frozen shrimp, chicken to the rice and chorizo pan.

Put the pan in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Garnish with the parsley and scallion, drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and serve.  Serve with crusty bread family style.


If it smells, don’t buy it.  It should have only the smell of fresh salt water.  It is hard to find fresh seafood here in the Midwest, so I buy frozen shrimp and mussels if I can't get it.  It also makes the work easier because you do not need to devein or debeard.  You may add any seafood you wish to this including fish. 


*Saffron is very expensive.  In fact it is the most expensive spice you can buy and apparently there is no real substitute for Saffron; however, there are two reasonable replacement options: you can go to a Mexican grocery store and use "Mexican Saffron" or you can use Turmeric (use less Turmeric as it has a stronger flavor than Saffron and can overpower the recipe). You can also leave it out entirely but it will lack the color and taste of a traditional paella. 

This is an expensive dish and you can't eat it all the time, but you can cut down on it and make it a much less expensive dish.  Try just one protein, like chicken.  You will end up with a very nice chicken and rice casserole.

Be happy and may God bless you and yours.

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