With Summer kicking off this weekend, it’s time to brush off the grill, step outside and enjoy the sunshine. I love the taste of grilled meats and summer vegetables and I especially love savory saffron threads, fresh seafood and smokey paprika. According to my tastebuds, Summer is paella time!
My favorite paella recipes include a hybrid of meats and seafood along with a variety of garden vegetables. While this deviates from an authentic Paella Valencia, I find that modern adaptations are among the best recipes out there (kudos and much love to Chef Jose Andres). In my home adaptation, I use saffron threads along with a mixture of tumeric and paprika, which adds a deep sense of earthiness and smoke (and it’s a little more economical too). My preferred variety of rice is arborio, as it absorbs the broth well and holds a proper texture.
I own a 16 inch paella pan that feeds 8-10 people generously. Every few months or so, I season the pan with canola oil and imagine the taste of soccarat. The golden crust of a paella, where the rice caramelizes into a crisp chewy layer is called the soccarat — and the right paella pan will help you achieve this ma gnificent result. A good paella pan is large, shallow and thin, which allows you to spread the rice into a single layer creating that wonderful crust worth celebrating. If you don’t have a paella pan, no worries, you can use a large saute pan (and if you have a lid, that’s even easier!)
I recommend using a good chicken broth and the freshest seafood and vegetables you can get. For the chorizo, I prefer it smoked, but fresh chorizo with the casings removed also works well.
The following is my easy paella recipe. It’s nowhere near as advanced as other amazing paella recipes out there, but it’s a great start for anyone that wants to give it a whirl. Once you have a place to start, you’ll make your next paella even more unique and spectacular!
If you try this on your grill, simply lower the hood and allow the paella to simmer to completion. If doing this indoors, I recommend placing the paella in a hot oven, using the lowest rack setting. In both cases, keep a few cups of extra broth handy, just in case it’s needed. I’ll be making this recipe for my friends on Saturday as well as several times this season. Here’s to a delicious Summer!
A Simple Paella Recipe
Serves 8-10 adults
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound fresh mussels
5 links of chorizo sausage, chopped
5 boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, small dice
2 red bell peppers, sliced thin (ribs and seeds removed)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups arborio rice
3/4 teaspoon paprika
3/4 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
4 cans (14.5 ounces) or two cartons (28.5 ounces) of chicken broth
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
Salt and Pepper to taste
Add a tablespoon of oil to the hot paella pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Add to the pan. After a minute add the chorizo and cook through. Remove meats from the pan. Lower heat to medium.
Add the remaining olive oil along with the peppers, garlic and onion. Cook until peppers are tender and onions are translucent, two to four minutes. Add the tomatoes and rice and stir well. Add seasonings and mix well. Return the meats to the pan and incorporate into the rice. Pour broth into the pan using a wooden spoon to pick up any brown bits. Taste broth and adjust seasonings as desired. Spread the rice into an even layer. Bring to a boil.
If cooking on a stovetop, cover with a lid and allow to simmer gently over low heat, undisturbed, for 20-25 minutes. If using a large paella pan, insert into a 325 degree hot oven for 25-30 minutes. On the grill, lower the hood.
During the last 8 minutes of cooking, add the mussels. At the last 5 minutes, add the shrimp. And for the final 2 minutes, the frozen peas.
Once the paella has finished cooking, allow to rest for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, serve with lemon wedges and enjoy with friends immediately.