There is something inherently beautiful about Paella. The contrasting colours, the symphonic scent of land and sea frolicking atop a luscious bed of saffron rice, the history… beautiful.
Native to Valencia, Spain, this dish is widely considered to be Spain’s national dish. According to food historian Lourdes March, paella “symbolizes the union and heritage of two important cultures, the Roman, which gives us the utensil and the Arab which brought us the basic food of humanity for centuries.”
Paella is a Valencian- Catalan work which derives from the Old French word “paelle” which means means pan. The dish steadily rose in popularity and in 1840 a local Spanish newspaper used the work paella for the recipe instead of the pan. Valencians use the word paella for all pans, including the large, round, shallow pan used for this dish.
Traditional Valencian paella consists of land snails, wild rabbit, chicken, green vegetables, white rice, beans, saffron and lemons and dates back to Moorish Spain. The coastal Spaniards use a version where seafood and fish with deeply flavoured sausages and meats aromatize the rice.
In this version, I was fortunate to have access to incredibly fresh seafood and beautiful chorizo sausage, not to mention some luxurious Maine lobster. This is quite time consuming and requires some skill in the kitchen, but if you want to have an incredible meal, there no better time than now to learn! This recipe serves a large crowd so feel free to divide it if needed.
1 whole chicken, cut into 10 pieces
2 Spanish chorizo sausage (thick slices on the bias)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 red bell pepper (small dice)
2 white onions (small dice)
6 cloves garlic (minced)
saffron (generous pinch)
1 cup white wine
4 cups short grain white rice
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
3 cups frozen peas
20 medium shrimp (shelled, deveined)
1 Lb clams (scrubbed)
1 Lb mussels (scrubbed)
2 parboiled lobsters, cleaned by your fish monger
Italian flat leaf parsley (chopped)
In a paella pan, or large shallow pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Brown chorizo, remove and reserve. Season chicken pieces, add to hot pan skin side down and brown on all sides. Remove and reserve.
Sauté together the peppers, onions, garlic and saffron until translucent and tender. Add rice to the pan and sauté rice with vegetables until pan is almost dry. Deglaze with wine and reduce until almost dry.
Pour in chicken stock and peas, stir to combine. Arrange chicken, chorizo, clams, shrimp and mussels in the pan to your liking. Cover and cook over low to medium heat for 15 minutes, shaking pan occasionally to prevent burning. When clams and mussels open add blanched lobster, cover and cook another 10 minutes to heat through and lightly toast the rice at the bottom of the pan.
Let paella sit 5 minute covered before serving.
Garnish with lemon and parsley and chives.
Serve in the cooking pan paired with beautiful wine like Rioja to get those oooohs and aaaahs that you deserve!