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Paella

Paella

I recently taught  a private cooking class in someone’s home and they requested this dish. A wonderful one pot meal; paella relies on fresh seafood, saffron and short grain rice from Valencia. It’s a crowd pleaser and perfect for guests as you can make it ahead and heat it later before serving.  The paella pan is wonderful if you have it, but if not, you can use a high sided skillet to prepare this perfect entree. If you prefer a crisp bottom for your paella, cook the dish for about four extra minutes, without stirring, until you hear the crackle of the rice and then let it rest a few minutes before bringing to the table.

Paella with Shrimp, Mussels and Chicken

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients

1 ½ pounds chicken thighs, with skin and bone if desired
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, chopped

1 28 oz. can plum tomatoes, chopped with their juices

2 cups (about) chicken broth, divided
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon Hungarian sweet paprika 

½ to 1 tsp. red pepper flakes

4 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled

3 bottles of clam juice or 3 cups fish or chicken broth

1 cup dry white wine, divided

2 1/2 cups white rice, preferably paella rice from Spain

5 peppercorns

1 bay leaf
1 pound large shrimp, peeled, de-veined, and/or sea scallops can be used 

16 mussels, scrubbed and beards removed 

1 10 oz. package frozen peas, defrosted, optional 

Procedure

  1. Place 1 tablespoon water in a cup; mix in saffron. 
  2. Heat a large high sided skillet or 16 inch Paella pan over medium heat. Add the chicken thighs and season well with salt and pepper, sauté until golden brown about 8 to 10 minutes, remove to a plate and pour off all the fat. Add the olive oil to the pan and sauté the onion, red pepper and garlic. Sauté until onion is lightly browned, about 4 minutes seasoning well with salt and pepper. Add the tomatoes and 1 cup of the broth and simmer until almost all tomato juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the tomato paste, paprika, red pepper flakes, parsley, saffron, rice, 1/2 cup of the wine and clam juice and stir for a few minutes. Bring to a simmer and add the chicken and cover, cook about 10 minutes until the rice is cooked, stirring often. If the pan gets dry add a little of the leftover chicken broth. Taste for seasoning, and add more red pepper flakes or salt if needed. 
  4. Meanwhile heat a large saucepan and add the white wine, peppercorns and bay leaf to a simmer. Add the mussels and cover. Steam until they open, about 8 minutes. Remove them from the saucepan and discard the steaming liquid. 
  5. Add the shrimp and peas. Cover; simmer until shrimp is just cooked through, adding broth by 1/4 cupfuls if paella is dry, about 4 minutes. Uncover and arrange the mussels on top and serve with the extra chopped parsley as a garnish. 

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