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Paella is one of the most famous and treasured Spanish dishes. It is a spectacular rice dish with a brilliant array of colors and flavors that is both visually enchanting and a savory delight. There is no one right way of making paella and every chef has his own way of preparing it. This recipe is easily prepared in an average kitchen (more traditional paellas are usually cooked on an open charcoal fire).
Feel free to experiment with the ingredients by adding your own favorites. Onions, artichokes, chick peas, mushrooms, bell peppers, lamb, rabbit and a variety of fish are often used in paella, although not mentioned in the recipe below. Be careful, though: one of the most common mistakes is to use too many ingredients, consequently overshadowing the rice. These other ingredients play an important role in the recipe, and that is to provide flavor to the rice.
Paella is traditionally cooked in a paella pan, which is a wide and shallow pan, only a few inches deep (the more surface the better). If you don’t have a paella pan, a large pan will do. This is usually a meal in itself and does not require side dishes to accompany it. This is not a dinner for two, so invite some friends over for dinner: this will feed 8 - 10 people.
6 oz. Plum tomatoes, peeled & seeded
10-20 Small clams
½ lb. Long beans, peeled & seeded
½ lb. Green peas
3 or 4 Boneless & skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
½ lb Ground chorizo*
1/3 lb Andalusia sausage, cut into ½ inch pieces
½ c. Olive oil
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
1 Sprig fresh rosemary
5 c. Chicken stock
1 tsp. Saffron
3½ c. Arborio or Valencia rice (do not rinse)
2 Lemons, quartered
*If ground chorizo is unavailable, you can substitute linked chorizo (in the form of a sausage). Or if you can’t find chorizo at all - use more Andalusia sausage instead. Butcher shops are a good place to find both of these meats.
- Clean and scrub the clams. Let them soak in a bowl of water to help remove the excess salt.
- Cut the beans into 1-½ inch pieces. Chop the tomatoes coarsely.
- Sprinkle salt over the chicken pieces. Separate the ground chorizo into bite-sized pieces.
- Heat the oil in a paella pan or a large pan, about 16 inches in diameter. Add the chicken, chorizo and sausage to the pan. Cook for five minutes or until browned on all sides.
- Add the beans, peas, tomatoes, garlic and rosemary and cook for 1 - 3 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then stir in the saffron. Leave to simmer on low for 10 minutes.
- Add rice & salt. Stir and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a medium or medium-low heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.
- Add the clams and cook 10 more minutes. Rice should be mostly done by now, but test it. If you need to, add a little water. The pan should be removed from the heat when the kernel is just cooked through. The grains should cling to each other - this is why you do not rinse the starch off the rice while preparing it, but it should not turn out sticky or mushy.
- Take the pan off the heat and cover with a kitchen towel. Let it stand for ten minutes. Rice will continue to cook a little and absorb a little more moisture. Remove and discard any clams that have not opened. Serve with the lemon wedges.
Along with a passion for food, Spain has a long history of winemaking and is a producer of excellent wines. Better known are the quality reds from Rioja and Ribera del Duero, reds and whites from Penedés, fine whites from Rueda, "Sherries" from Jerez, and a fine sparkling wine known as Cava.