Paella for Amigas y Amigos
In Texas, the term “Spanish” was sometimes used (euphemistically) to mean Mexican, or Mexican American. Restaurants serving Mexican food sometimes called themselves “Spanish” as in Spanish Village or Spanish flowers. Not so much today. We enjoy festive Paella without ever confusing it with any of our delicious Mexican regional dishes that showcase chicken in a skillet like Calabacita con Pollo and, my favorite, Arroz con Pollo.
About seasonings: I don’t use any laurel leaf here, nor the usual thyme. If you want to use use bay leaf in your paella, keep in mind that the Mediterranean bay laurel leaf is a different species from two other laurel leafs, the Mexican laurel leaf and the California Bay Leaf. I suggest you try the Mexican one for a more subtle flavor.
All of my Chicano Chef friends have their own very personal version of Paella. This Paella recipe is one that I’ve made personal simply by using Texas smoked sausage and Texas Gulf coast shrimp. Brown the sausage first and then use the drippings to brown the chicken. Deglazing leaves you with a robust flavor addition to the cooking liquid. It’s a beautiful dish for parties, friends.
Paella Recipe (serves 6)
3/4 lb Smoked Sausage, sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1 lb Chicken, skinned, cut up into small pieces
3 cups Arborio Rice (Purists keep nagging me that this should be the Spanish bomba rice. OK, you have been heard! I’ll discuss that in another post about Texas adaptations.)
1 1/2 tsp Saffron threads
1/2 lb Shrimp, peeled and deveined. I like Texas Gulf coast
10 Mussels, scrubbed clean, de-bearded
10 Clams, scrubbed clean
6 oz. Scallops, (If using sea scallops, I cut them in half)
1 1/2 cups Green Peas
3/4 cup Red Bell Pepper, sliced into 1/4″ X 3″strips
1/4 cup Onion, diced
1 small garlic clove, minced and crushed
3 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
1/2 cup dry white wine
1. In a saucepan, heat the water and chicken stock, add the saffron threads and garlic and steep for 5 minutes.
2. In a paella pan, cook the sausage on medium heat until it is browned. Remove the sausage and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat
3. On high heat, add the chicken and onions and cook until the chicken is slightly golden and the onions translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping with a wooden spoon to dislodge all the brown bits and evaporate most of the wine.
4. Add back the sausage and also the rice, saffron liquid, and red bell pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a very low simmer and cook, covered, for 10 minutes
5. Add the peas and shellfish, pressing the shellfish down into the rice and liquid. Bring the liquid to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes, until the shellfish is cooked. It is ready to serve. Gather round, spring open the cover and enjoy the lusty steam and aroma. Serve with the lemon wedges.
FYI, you may also want to try this Paella Vegetariana.
As they say in Spain, ¡Buen Provecho!