Sunday, September 21, 2014

Paella for Two

I made paella for the first time yesterday. It tasted great and was fun to make. Although describing the number of steps involved in preparing paella make it sound laborious, it was actually easy to do. Give it a try! Serving it with some Spanish cava makes the dinner even more festive.

1 pinch saffron threads (about 1/4 teaspoon)
1 skinless boneless chicken breast
1 medium onion
1 ripe tomato
2 garlic cloves
16 fresh mussels
olive oil
1 cup long grain rice
3 cups hot chicken stock
A cup of water for deglazing the pan, as needed
8 good-sized shrimp
Pitted kalamata olives
Lemon wedges and parsley for garnish


At least one hour before you start cooking, sprinkle both sides of the chicken breast with paprika and oregano leaf.  Scrub and clean the mussels. Peel and clean the shrimp.

Heat a small fry pan over medium/medium low. Toast the saffron in the pan for a minute or two. Off the heat, crush the saffron in the pan using the back of a spoon. Soak the saffron in 1 tablespoon hot water.

Cut the chicken int 1/2 inch cubes or little-finger sized strips.

Cut the onion in half around its center. Grate the onion through the largest holes of a box grater. Cut the tomato around its center and grate the halves all the way down to the skin.

In a 12-inch fry pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium. Add the chicken and saute for a minute or two, until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove the chicken from the pan to a plate.

Add two more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan.

Over medium-low heat, saute the grated onion for about 4 minutes.

Add tomato, garlic, pinch of salt and pinch of paprika. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until dark, red and thick. Deglaze the pan as needed.

Add the rice, increase the heat to medium, and stir constantly for 1 - 2 minutes. Spread the rice evenly around the pan.

Slowly add 2 1/2 cups of hot chicken stock and the saffron with its soaking water. No more stirring after this point.

Bring to a boil and simmer vigorously for 8 minutes, and the rice appears at the level of the broth.

Add the mussels and last 1/2 cup stock. Lower heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes.

Add the shrimp and chicken and  simmer another 5 minutes.

Cover the pan if necessary to cook the shrimp.

Remove from heat. Add some kalamata olives. Cover the pan with a dish towel and let the dish rest 5 minutes.

Garnish the dish with parsley and lemon wedges. To serve, set the pan on the center of the table and enjoy!

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