Friday, September 23, 2011

Paella

The only time I've had paella was at restaurants and I've always loved it. Course, I'm a huge fan of anything rice based. On our last night in Manhattan, we actually dined at a Spanish restaurant at the Chelsea Hotel (El Quijote) and I had the most amazing paella stocked full of seafood. Since saffron is a main component of paella, I priced it out just for grins - as most know, it's ridiculously expensive so I passed on buying it.

However, our local Albertsons is closing and all their spices are clearancing out. I completely lucked out and found saffron for $4 a bottle! I bought a couple of bottles and immediately started marking saffron based meals to try. Paella being the first.

I can't account for how authentic this really is, though it tasted the same as I remembered it in NYC. I found the original recipe on All Recipes but made a few changes along the way just to suit our taste. If you have the saffron, it's actually an easy, quick meal that makes a large portion. Delicious!

Paella
1-1/4 cups uncooked white rice
3 cups chicken stock, divided
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
3 saffron threads
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed into small pieces
1 pound peeled and deveined small shrimp
3 small lobster tails, or 1/2 pound lobster meat
8 ounce fresh mushrooms, sliced
*you can always add clams and mussels

Rinse the rice with cold water; drain; set aside. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and keep warm. Work the garlic, parsley, curry powder, saffron threads, salt, black pepper, and 1/4 cup of the hot chicken stock together with a mortar and pestle until a smooth liquid forms; set the seasoning liquid aside.

Heat the olive oil in a paella pan over medium-high heat; cook and stir the onion until lightly browned. Stir in the chicken, shrimp, and lobster; cook and stir until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 10 minutes. Pour in the seasoning liquid.

Stir in the rice, pour in the hot chicken stock, and simmer until the rice is nearly tender, about 15 minutes. Add mushrooms; stir two times, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand until rice is soft and flaky, about 7 minutes.

My changes: my lobster meat was already cooked so I added it with the mushrooms. I also browned some Italian sausage I had in the fridge along with the onion. I don't have a paella pan so I used a regular pan. My stove cooks hotter than most so just keep an eye on your rice; it might finish sooner.

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