- 1/2 pound prawns, peeled and shells reserved
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon saffron threads
- 2 cups flavorful chicken broth
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil or high-heat oil
- 3/4 pound boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
- 12 to 16 green beans or snap peas, stems removed
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large tomato, chopped finely (you may peel it if you wish — see note)
- 2 cups medium-grain rice
- 1/2 pound albacore tuna, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound mussels or clams, scrubbed (optional)
- Lemon and parsley, for garnish
- Alioli Sauce (optional)
In a saucepan, combine shrimp shells with water; bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes and strain the liquid, discarding shells. Place the liquid back in the pot. Add saffron and chicken broth. Season to taste with salt and pepper; set aside.
In a large sauté pan or paella pan (about 14 inches works well for this recipe) heat oil over medium-high heat and brown chicken for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan.
Add peppers and beans or peas and cook until peppers are tender and peas are bright green. Remove from the pan.
Add a little extra oil if needed to the pan and cook onions and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and a pinch of salt and cook until all of the liquid is absorbed and the mixture begins to caramelize, 15 to 20 minutes. This is your “sofrito.”
You may do all of these steps up to several hours prior to finishing the paella.
About 45 minutes before you are ready to dine: Bring shrimp and chicken stock to a boil.
Place the paella pan over medium heat, with the sofrito still in the pan. Add rice and stir for 1 to 2 minutes to toast the grains. Depending on the size of your paella pan, you may use one or two burners for the cooking process. (Of course feel free to do this step over your outdoor barbecue or even a smoldering bed of campfire coals!)
Carefully add simmering stock to the pan. Shake the pan to distribute the rice and stock. Place chicken, prawns, tuna, peppers and beans or peas in a decorative fashion over rice, pushing them down into the stock. Tuck mussels or clams into the stock. Simmer the paella, moving and spinning it in various positions over the flame to cook it evenly, for about 20 minutes or until rice is just barely “al dente.” Resist the temptation to stir!
If you are uncomfortable with cooking the paella to completion on top of the stove you may finish it in the oven. When the rice begins to expand and come to the surface of the liquid, place the pan in a 425° F oven for the last 10 minutes or so of cooking time. Some chefs choose to put foil on top to trap some of the steam, but I find that quite unromantic! At any rate, whichever method you choose, one of the true signs of a perfect paella is the golden crust that forms on the bottom, called the “socarrat.” The best way to achieve this is to turn the heat up just a bit towards the end of the cooking time (or place your oven-finished paella back on the stove for a moment) until you hear the rice crackle. Keep your nose sharply tuned. You want it to smell toasty and golden but not burned.
When the paella is cooked, remove it from the heat, cover it with a towel and let it rest for about 5 minutes to give the rice a little more time to cook. Serve your masterpiece accompanied with lemons, parsley and alioli Sauce (optional).
HOW TO PEEL A TOMATO
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Set up a bowl with ice water. Cut a small cross in the bottom of the tomato and place it in the boiling water. The riper the tomato, the less time this will take — usually about 10 seconds will suffice. Remove the tomato from the boiling water and place it immediately into the ice water. Then with a small paring knife, starting at the cross in the bottom, peel the skin away.
Don’t Just Shop Your Values. Own Them.
When you’re a PCC member, your voice and your groceries go further — every purchase you make supports our community. Join our co-op today for a one-time fee of $60 and enjoy a lifetime of benefits, including exclusive offers and events, partner discounts with local businesses and more.Become a member