“Tenemos que quedar un día para comer una paella.” “We have to stay all day to eat a paella.”
A paella isn’t made fast and it shouldn’t be eaten fast. A paella is all about enjoyment. I mean just look at it!
Paella was my introduction into Spanish food and the best paella I’ve ever eaten was always in the homes of my husband’s family. We also had an amazing paella in Valencia, but that is another thing! The ingredients for this dish aren’t set in stone. You can leave something out or add something in. You can change the quantities to suit your liking or what is available to you. I’ve written a basic recipe but feel free to make your paella your own. In Spain, the paella is often adorned with whole shrimp, head and all, on the top. These are hard to find in my area, but if you can find them I would use them. You can sauté them before you sauté the pork and chicken and set them aside until ready to garnish. I hope you give this recipe a try. It is bound to impress!!!
- 3 to 5 large raw whole shrimp or large shell-on shrimp for garnish
- 1/2 lb raw shrimp unpeeled
- 1/4 lb mussels
- 1/4 lb clams
- 1/2 lb boneless pork loin cut in 1" cubes marinated for at least 4 hrs in a tsp of salt, 14 cup of water and a chopped garlic clove
- 1 lb boneless chicken breast cut in 1" cubes
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 3 tbsp tomato sauce or 2 small tomatoes peeled seeded and finely chopped
- 2 small squid cleaned and cut into 1/4" rings
- 2 1/2 cups long-grain rice
- 3 sprigs of parsley
- 1 tsp saffron threads
- 2 chicken bouillon cubes optional
- 1 cup peas fresh frozen or canned (drained)
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup of olives drained
- 1 or 2 jarred red peppers cut into strips for decoration
- lemon wedges
- Make a shrimp stock by peeling shrimp, placing shells in a pot with a little olive oil and cooking until shells change colors. Add 7 1/2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add bouillon cubes. Turn down heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and strain into a bowl.
- Clean mussels by scrubbing under running water and removing beard. Clean the clams under running water. Place the shellfish in a pan and pour in 1/4 water and cook over high heat for 3 to 6 minutes, until the shells have opened. Remove the shellfish, discarding any that didn't open and reserve cooking liquid. Remove some of the shellfish from their shells leaving a few in the half shell for a garnish. Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth into the shrimp stock. Add enough water to reach 7 1/2 cups of water.
- Heat oil in a 16" paella pan on medium heat. Add whole shrimp or shell on shrimp (the shrimp used for the garnish) and sauté over medium heat until done, a few minutes. Set aside for later. Add pork and chicken and cook until done. Remove to a plate. Add the onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent about 7 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, stirring constantly for a minute or two. Add the shrimp, squid and rice. Cook, stirring constantly until the squid becomes opaque. Add shelled mussels and clams. Pour in the stock and stir.
- Pound parsley with the saffron in a mortar. Add 2 tbsp of water and stir. Add to the paella pan.
- Add peas and olives, stir. Garnish the paella with strips of red pepper.
- Let the paella simmer in the pan for 20 to 25 minutes shaking the pan occasionally to insure it isn't burning on the bottom. Check with a spoon occasionally.
- The paella is done when the rice has absorbed all the liquid. Garnish the paella with mussels, and whole shrimp or shrimp in their shells. Take off the heat and cover with a kitchen towel for 5 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges placed around the sides.