Paella. IZ ALL ABOUT DA PAELLA. Even the word alone makes me swoon. Heaps of steaming seafood and vegetables gently tucked into mounds of golden saffron rice…mmm. As I wrote earlier about my new obsession with shellfish, I thought I’d try my hand at creating my own version of the Valencian classic dish. I knew what I had to do, the basic idea of the dish, but I went in organic and raw, using my inspiration and pallete as guides. I wanted to create something with bold flavors, rice that had texture, but also had a rich creaminess, like an upscale spaghetti-os. I wanted the shellfish to be absorbed in the rice, but not overwhelmed or consumed. Big bites of saffron spiced rice infused with a tomatoey broth complemented tender and salty mussels like they were meant to be, like PB& J, or Bonnie and Clyde. I like to think I accomplished my goals when my paella meant for six, left four people longing for more.
It was easy to prepare, quick to make, serves many, and looks impressive. Basically, its a perfect 10.
Note: I find cooking the shellfish and vegetables separatley at first gives the rice a better flavor.
4 cloves garlic
1/2 lb button mushrooms
1 vidalia onion
2 green peppers
1 can whole tomatoes, peeled, keep liquid!!!
2 cups chicken broth
1 packet yellow saffron rice
3 dozen manilla clams
3 dozen mussels
1 cup white wine
1/2 stick of butter
3 gloves garlic
3 chicken sausage (cooked)
In a large skillet pan heat up enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Dice the 4 cloves of garlic and once the oil is hot, drop in the cloves. Turn on high heat. Thinly slice the mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers. First add the mushrooms to the oil. Do NOT crowd them and don’t touch them so they get a nice sear. Flip them over then add the onions. Let brown and sear for about 3 minutes per side. Add bell peppers and let sear for 2 minutes or until slightly tender. Lower heat. Open the can of tomatoes and empty the excess liquid into the pan. Roughly chop the tomatoes then add as well. Add in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. *If you need more room, at this point you can transfer this into a soup pot. Once the mixture has come to a boil add rice, stir, and cover.
In a separate pan melt the butter. Once melted, add garlic, shrimp, and scallops. Cover and cook. Once cooked almost all the way through, add clams, mussels, and wine. Cover until clams and mussels open, then turn off the heat.
After about 20 minutes open the rice pot, and stir. The rice should almost be finished cooking. Pour the shellfish, liquid included, into the rice pot. Stir, and cover for about 5-10 more minutes depending on how done the rice is.
Once you feel that the rice is done, rice takes about 25 minuts in total, remove the pot from heat. Slice sausage and add to pot. Transfer into a beautiful bowl and serve with big crusty bread.
What you have: Saffron rice that soaks up the tomatoey oniony flavor of the vegetables and complements the shellfish beautifully.
WARNING: Wear loose clothing when eating this dish, because it will fill you up, but you won’t put down your fork.