I was fortunate to have spent about eight days traveling around Spain in the eighties when I was in my twenties. I didn't know that much about the country before going because it wasn't a planned thing, just a blowing with the wind kind of thing for me. Two things that I discovered early on were paella and tapas. In every town or city I visited in that country I had paella for at least one of my meals. I never had the same paella anywhere because paella is one of those regional things that can’t be pinned down, and shouldn't be. It can be all meat, all seafood, contain snails, or be vegetarian...a blank canvas; a personal canvas. I found that I really enjoyed those that combined seafood and meat, but there are so many shake ups on the idea that if that isn't your thing then you can find a paella recipes (or make one up) that suits you. I got the base for this particular recipe from CHOW.
I have made several paellas over the year and used my first attempt at it as an excuse to buy myself an authentic paella pan. You need the proper tools for the job right? If you don't want to indulge in a single use pan you can try using a large cast iron pan. I haven't personally, so I don't know if you will get the crust that a true paella gets. Let me know.
I took this photo with my old...old ...old iPhone. Pretty good I think.
Paella Mixta Oven Style (adapted from CHOW)
- 1 16 ounce bag wild caught large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ pound Spanish cooking chorizo cut into ¼ inch rounds (or Portuguese linguica)
- Olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, small dice
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 large pinch saffron threads
- 1 14.5 can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups Bomba rice or Arborio rice
- 4 cups (1 quart) low-sodium chicken broth
- 16 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
- 16 Manila clams, scrubbed
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 lemon cut into 6 wedges
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the shrimp in a bowl and add 1/4 teaspoon of the smoked paprika and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and refrigerate.
- Place the chicken in another bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste and refrigerate.
- Place a 15-inch paella pan (or cast iron skillet) across two burners and heat over medium-high heat until hot, about 2 minutes. Add the chorizo (or linguica) to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until it has started to brown and the fat has rendered, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove sausage from pan with a slotted spoon to a large bowl.
- Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the pan if needed. Add the seasoned chicken to the pan in a single layer and sear, stirring occasionally, until both sides are golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer the chicken to the bowl with the sausage and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, the remaining 3/4 teaspoon paprika, and saffron and cook another 30 seconds.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and cook until the mixture has slightly darkened in color, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and 1 teaspoon salt and stir to coat in the tomato mixture.
- Add the broth and stir to combine. Flatten the rice mixture evenly over the bottom of the pan. Add the reserved sausage and chicken evenly over the rice. Do not stir the rice from this point forward.
- Bring the rice to a simmer and continue to simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary and rotating the pan 90 degrees every few minutes, until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid and the rice starts to make a crackling sound, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Spread the reserve shrimp evenly around the pan. Push the mussels and clams (hinge side down) partially into the rice. Place the pan in the oven on the middle rack and bake until the shellfish have opened, the shrimp are just cooked through, and the rice is tender, about 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and cover with foil and let stand for 5 minutes.
- To serve: Uncover and remove any unopened shellfish, sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.