Over the weekend I ask our Facebook Fans, or should I say our "likers", what they were craving. Alison Moriarty, who works with me, said she was looking for a good paella recipe. Jeff and I had been talking about making a paella and this gave us reason to look for and make the request.
After laboring over a few recipes, we decided on Bobby Flay's Shellfish and Chicken Paella with Saffron Rice, Chorizo and Green Peas. It had everything we wanted to see in a paella...chicken, chorizo, and an assortment of seafood. It also called for arborio rice which is similar to Bomba rice, used in traditional Spanish paella.
Paella is definitely a mix of different meats, seafood and vegetables. Depending on your likes and dislikes, I'll leave it up to you on what you would like to add or subtract from this recipe. The recipe calls for lobster and we struggled with whether we wanted to include it, mostly for cost. There are quite a few ingredients in this dish and many comments suggested leaving the lobster out and including scallops. In the end, we did add both the lobster and scallops. We also used boneless chicken thighs rather than the whole chicken parts and they cooked up easily and were delicious in the paella. We did add more shrimp (16 versus 8). In total, for seafood, we had lobster, scallops, mussels, little neck clams (12), shrimp and squid.
We were joined by Brian and Sharon (good friends of ours...think Bitch Bags and Romex Construction - they created our kitchen), along with Jeff's parents and our daughters, Danielle and Kristen. It was a great evening of glasses of wine with an incredible paella. I was able to figure out why there was a lemon aioli added to the dish. As I was tasting the paella before the aioli, it was a little fishy tasting (which I didn't mind). With the aioli mixed in, it separated the flavors and removed that fishy taste. There was a clean taste when you ate the chicken, chorizo and seafood. Each had its own distinct flavor, making the dish absolutely DELICIOUS! Everyone had different reasons for loving the dish. "The chicken was moist and flavorful", "the chorizo was amazing", "the lobster was tender and flavorful", "the rice was delicious" and "I loved the peas in it!".
For all the work necessary for this dish, it was well worth it. Allow yourself a few hours for preparation which may include cooking some of the ingredients ahead of time. It's like every meal, dish or dessert we make...when we have an audience of people enjoying what we serve, it is worth every moment it takes to prepare, cook and deliver the dish.
Thank you, Alison, for making the suggestion. It puts another great recipe into our library of dishes! Enjoy!
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
*2 egg yolks
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3/4 cup olive oil
Freshly ground white pepper
4 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 cups chicken stock, divided
Large pinch saffron
12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 (2 1/2-pound) whole chicken, cut in 8 pieces or 4 legs and 4 thighs (dark meat)
1/2 pound chorizo, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1/4 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups Arborio (paella) rice
12 mussels, debearded and scrubbed
8 large shrimp, peeled and deveined, with tail on (we used 16 shrimp)
1/2 pound of scallops
4 baby squid, cleaned and sliced into rings, tentacles reserved
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 cooked lobsters (1 1/2 pounds each), tails in the shell, split lengthwise, claw meat in the shell or out, as desired
Freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish
1/2 cup Lemon Aioli (we used all of it)
For the aioli:
Place the garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, egg yolks, lemon juice and zest in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Slowly add the oil, drop by drop at first, until thickened. Season with salt and white pepper, to taste. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the paella:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the tomatoes in a small baking dish and drizzle with the honey, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and salt and pepper, and roast until soft. Set aside.
Bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan and add a large pinch of saffron. Put about 1/2 cup of the stock in another saucepan, add the clams, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook just until the clams open; remove the clams from the liquid and set aside, reserving the liquid.
Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a very large skillet or paella pan over medium-high heat. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to the heated pan. Cook until browned on all sides. Remove the chicken pieces to a plate. Add the chorizo, onion and garlic and saute until chorizo has browned and the onions are translucent.
Add the rice, about 7 1/2 cups of the chicken stock, the reserved clam liquid, and any juices from the chicken and bring to a simmer. Nestle the chicken in the rice and let cook, uncovered, until the rice is quite al dente, about 15 minutes. Adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer-the rice on the bottom of the pan should form a dark brown crispy crust by the end of the cooking time. If the stock is disappearing too quickly, just add a bit more of the remaining 2 cups.
Add the mussels, shrimp, scallop, squid, and peas. Cook until the shrimp are pink and the mussels open. Add the lobster, clams and roasted tomatoes and heat briefly. At this point, you should still be able to see liquid bubbling gently; it will settle when you turn off the heat. Fold in the parsley and lemon aioli and mix until combined, season with salt and pepper, to taste.