(Recipe is found on Cook’s Illustrated’s website here. I think you may need a subscription to view the link, but their recipes are beyond amazing and well-tested so a subscription is well worth it.)
Step by Step Instructions:
Here is everything you will need to take this culinary journey I have gone on this week: Chicken Stock, Arborio (or Valencia) Rice, Olive Oil (I used an olive oil my mom had that is from Chile but any olive oil will do), Dry White Wine (this was a Pinot Grigio), large (or extra-large) Shrimp, about a dozen mussels, a 14.5 oz. can of Diced Tomatoes, Frozen Peas, a Lemon, Boneless and Skinless Chicken Thighs (about a pound), Red Pepper, White Onion, 8-9 Cloves of Garlic, Saffron Threads, Chorizo, a Bay Leaf and Fresh Parsley (not pictured).
I started out getting all of my prep work done. First I peeled all of the shrimp, which was already deveined for the most part. Then I set the shrimp aside in a bowl. I had about 1.7 pounds of shrimp and the recipe calls for 1 pound, but I like shrimp so I went with it and prepared it all.
Then I removed the top and seeds of the red pepper and cut it into 1/2 inch wide strips and set them aside.
Next up, I finely diced a white onion until I had about a cup. It ended up taking a little more than half of an onion.
Thank goodness I was visiting my mom this week when I needed to chop up 8-9 cloves of garlic. I have decided that my next kitchen purchase will be a garlic press because it saved me a ton of time. Above are 9 cloves of garlic I ran through the garlic press. That’s a lot of garlic – no vampires coming over for dinner tonight!
I tossed the shrimp with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of garlic.
Then I covered it with plastic wrap and placed it and the mussels in the fridge until I was ready for them later on.
The time has come to deal with the raw chicken…not my favorite thing. So I opened the package and rinsed each thigh off and patted them dry with a paper towel. I trimmed off as much fat as I could and cut them into fairly large chunks (4-5 pieces per thigh). I put them in a bowl and seasoned them with a little salt and pepper and set the bowl aside for a few minutes.
Now it’s time to cook! First off, move your oven racks down to the lower section of the oven (you can see where I had them in a picture further down) and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then add about 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan and heat it over medium-high heat until the oil is kind of shimmering but not smoking.
Then I added the strips of red peppers to the pot and cooked them for 3-5 minutes…
I took them out when the skin was slightly blistered looking and the edges were just starting to get black.
Then add a little more oil (a teaspoon or so) to the pot.
Place the chicken pieces in a single layer on the bottom of the pan for about 3 minutes and turn them over.
Cook the other side another 3 minutes or so until the chicken is brown on the outside. Once they are cooked, remove the chicken from the pot and set them aside.
The chorizo that I used was not in a casing, so it acted a lot like ground beef in how it cooked up. You can also buy it in a casing and cut it into pieces, which would also be fabulous.
I cooked the chorizo until I could see a fair amount of oil in the pot as you see above. I used a slotted spoon to carefully transfer the chorizo from the pot to the bowl with the chicken.
Next up added a splash of olive oil to the pan and poured in my diced onions. I cooked them for about 3 minutes.
Then it was time to add the remaining garlic…yes, people that’s a lot of garlic, but this is a lot of food (and I love garlic). I cooked the garlic and onions for about a minute or until you could really start smelling the garlic.
Okay, this is the point in which I must put in a disclaimer…it’s important to read the ingredients list. I (like a champ) dumped in the entire contents of the diced tomatoes can and then began cooking for about 3 minutes until the mixture gets thicker. Then it occurred to me to check the ingredients to see if the tomatoes should have been drained. I found that yes, they should have not only been drained, but THEN minced, and THEN drained again. I will do better next time, I promise. So I ended up ladling as much of the tomato juice from my pot as I could so that the mixture could be a bit thicker. Regardless, it still looks pretty darned good…moving on.
Then add two cups of Arborio rice. The recipe also says you can use Valencia rice, but I couldn’t find it. Arborio rice is the type of rice you would also typically use in cooking risotto. Stir everything together for 1-2 minutes until the rice is well coated.
Then add 3 cups of chicken broth, 1/3 cup of wine, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1 bay leaf. It’s also time to add your Saffron. If you aren’t familiar with Saffron, it is pretty expensive because it has to be hand-picked. They are basically little threads. I measured 1/2 teaspoon of the threads and then crushed them in my hand and dropped them in the pot. Then stir everything together.
Grab your cooked chicken and chorizo you set aside and add it back into the pot and stir the contents.
Then bring this mixture to a boil. If you need/want to crank up the heat a bit, you can. Just keep an eye on it and stir it regularly.
Once the ingredients boil, put a lid on the dish and put your Dutch Oven into the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
Now during this cooking time I did a couple of things. First I measured out my peas in a strainer and rinsed them with hot water to begin the thawing process and set them aside. Then I moved on to the mussels. Second, with my lovely mom’s help, we got the mussels that were still alive scrubbed, removed any beards we saw (kind of a root-looking thing coming from inside the mussel that you just pull out) and set them aside. Side note: I mentioned in my blog post on this dish that you may want to buy a couple extra mussels, because when I opened my bag, some of the mussels were opened slightly. The tip is to tap on the mussel (kind of sharply) and set it aside and do this with all opened mussels. Then look at them a minute or so later and if they have closed back up then you are good to use them because it means the mussel is still alive.
After 15 minutes, the dish will look like this for the most part. Pull it out of the oven, remove the lid…
…and add the remaining ingredients. First I took all of my shrimp and laid them across the top of the dish. Then I added the good mussels by spacing them apart and placing them hinge-side down. Then I sprinkled my thawed peas over the top and finally I placed the strips of pepper over the top in a pinwheel pattern…pretty, no?!
Bake another 10-12 minutes until the shrimp is no longer opaque and the mussels have all opened up. Then cover the dish and let it sit out of the oven for about 5 more minutes.
During this time, you can prepare your garnishes. You just need to slice a lemon into wedges and then chop some fresh parsley.
Here is what the dish looks like when it is finished cooking and resting. How gorgeous does that look?!! We served our Paella in a bowl with some crusty garlic bread that was a perfect compliment. This recipe was a huge hit and I loved every bite of it. The chorizo added a lovely spicy hint throughout the dish as well. Muy Delicioso!!
1 pound extra-large shrimp (21/25), peeled and deveined
8-9 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs , each thigh trimmed of excess fat and halved crosswise
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut pole to pole into 1/2 inch wide strips
8 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced 1/2 inch thick on the bias (see note)
1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained, minced, and drained again
2 cups Valencia rice or Arborio
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
1 bay leaf
1 dozen mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Toss shrimp, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1 teaspoon garlic in medium bowl; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper; set aside.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until skin begins to blister and turn spotty black, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer peppers to small plate and set aside.
3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to now-empty Dutch oven; heat oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add chicken pieces in single layer; cook, without moving pieces, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn pieces and brown on second side, about 3 minutes longer; transfer chicken to medium bowl. Reduce heat to medium and add chorizo to pot; cook, stirring frequently, until deeply browned and fat begins to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl with chicken and set aside.
4. Add enough oil to fat in Dutch oven to equal 2 tablespoons; heat over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes; stir in remaining garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; cook until mixture begins to darken and thicken slightly, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice and cook until grains are well coated with tomato mixture, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in chicken broth, wine, saffron, bay, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Return chicken and chorizo to pot, increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover pot and transfer to oven; cook until rice abso
rbs almost all liquid, about 15 minutes. Remove pot from oven (close oven door to retain heat). Uncover pot; scatter shrimp over rice, insert mussels hinged side down into rice (so they stand upright), arrange bell pepper strips in pinwheel pattern, and scatter peas over top. Cover and return to oven; cook until shrimp are opaque and mussels have opened, 10 to 12 minutes.
5. Optional: If soccarat (see note) is desired, set Dutch oven, uncovered, over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, rotating pot 180 degrees after about 2 minutes for even browning.
6. Let paella stand, covered, about 5 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened and bay leaf, if it can be easily removed. Sprinkle with parsley and serve, passing lemon wedges separately.
7. If You’re Using a Paella Pan:
A paella pan makes for an attractive and impressive presentation. Use one that is 14 to 15 inches in diameter. A 14-inch ovensafe skillet will work as well, but do not attempt to use anything smaller because the contents will simply not fit. Follow the recipe for Paella, increasing the chicken broth to 3 1/4 cups and the wine to 1/2 cup. Before placing the pan in the oven, cover it tightly with foil. For soccarat, cook the paella, uncovered, over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, rotating the pan 180 degrees after about 1 1/2 minutes for even browning.