Friday, August 19, 2016

Makling Our Own Paella

In our travels to Europe, particularly Spain, Italy, and France, we see the large pans of Paella simmering and being gobbled up in the markets and smaller versions in the restaurants.  It's time for us to do one of our own and we search through the recipes until we find Paella with Chorizo, Chicken, and Shrimp (Paella Mixta) in Saveur.

The combination of saffron, paprika and chroizo offer a great variety of tastes and the chicken, shrimp, mussels, artichokes, peas, red peppers, and short-grained bomba rice mix well together for a fantastic meal.

First, the bomba rice.  Wikipedia tells us bomba is a short-grain rice from the eastern part of Spain, commonly used in paella.   Bomba rice absorbs about three times its volume in broth, rather than the normal two.  If not available, Arbario rice is a substitute, but, if used, we would need to reduce the amount of broth added.  However, we find bomba rice (from Valencia - yeah!) at our local market and go with the real thing.

 Bomba rice

We let 30 or so threads of saffron sit in hot water while we heat a half cup of olive oil in our new paella pan and add the seasoned chicken (1 pound of boneless thighs, each cut into three or four pieces - Jesse at Encinal Market was kind enough to cut out the bones for us), a dozen shrimp, and a half pound of Spanish chrorizo (3/4 of the chorizo, the rest saved for use in scrambled eggs a few days later - from the Pasta Shop on 4th street in Berkeley).

Assembling the ingredients - initially using the oil, chicken, shrimp, and chorizo in front

After browning, we remove the shrimp and add the tomatoes (3 minced) and onion (1 minced), along with the spices:  paprika, minced garlic cloves, and a few bay leaves, stirring until the onions are soft.  We then add the saffron and hot water, along with 7 cups of broth and bring to a boil.  At the boil, its time for 2-1/2 cups of the bomba rice, along with a box of frozen artichokes (thawed), 1/2 pound of peas (frozen this time - the fresh peas weren't looking that exciting at the market), and a jar of roasted red pepper cut into strips.

Add the onion, then tomatoes on top

 All together now with rice, broth, and vegetables

Cooking 10-15 minutes, the rice absorbs the liquid, then we return the shrimp to the pan, tuck the mussels among the other delights and cook until the mussels have opened and all the liquid is absorbed, another 10 minutes or so.  We let it rest a bit, tented, then serve.

Finishing up with shrimp and mussels


 Served at home!

And, for comparison, here is the paella we were served last year in Monterosso al Mare, Liguria, Italy.

Served in Italy

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