Ok ladies and gentleman, no joke, this is the best paella. Admittedly, I only had a few in the restaurants, one in Spain, and a few home versions from friends. I am not exactly a paella expert, but I do know when I have an amazing recipe and dish in front of myself, and this is one of them.
I got this recipe at a cooking class in Laguna Beach, CA a few years back, and I changed/added a minimal amount of things to make it perfect for my family. Yes, it has room to play and add your own little touch. Perfect recipe! The class was held by Debra Buzar and here is my old post from that class.
One of my favorite things is making different cultures themed dinner parties, and this paella is a perfect dish for such a party. Last time I made it we started the dinner with a selection of Spanish cheeses and olives, beautiful crusty bread and some Spanish wine. We were careful not to overdo it though, who would want to ruin a dinner like this?!?
In this version I decided on some lobster tails, but I have made it before with different seafood, whatever looked nice and fresh at the market, my favorite being scallops and squid. And talking about squid, a friend of mine told me she had amazing paella in Vegas made with squid ink. Oh boy, I'm a sucker for squid ink. I really need to find some place I could order it from and not break the bank... no such luck so far in Salt Lake. If anyone has a tip on that, it would be greatly appreciated!
For this paella I bought special paella rice, and it was amazing. Arborio works great too for a simpler and more affordable version, I use it almost every time I make paella!
adapted from recipe by Debra Buzar
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 Tbsp garlic, minced fine
1 medium tomato, chopped fine
1 large yellow bell pepper, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 large orange bell pepper, diced
24 oz skinless boneless chicken thighs
2 Spanish Chorizo sausages
(you can sub with Mexican if you can't find it, or with spicy Italian sausage)
8 to 12 large uncooked shrimp (not frozen)
2 lobster tails, halved
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tsp paprika
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 cups Paella or Arborio rice
6 cups seafood broth (or chicken broth) keep it hot in a pot on the stove and add the saffron to the broth
1/4 tsp saffron
1/2 cup peas
5 Tbsp capers
Heat the olive oil in the paella pan over high heat.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and then add to the pan and saute until it's browned. Remove from the pan.
Add the Chorizo to the pan and cook until cooked through. Remove from the pan and slice into rounds.
Add the onion to the pan and saute until soft and lightly caramelized then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until you can smell the garlic.
Add the tomatoes and peppers and saute, season with salt.
Add wine and cook until it's reduced by half then add the stock and bring to a boil.
Add browned chicken and Chorizo back to the pan and then add the rice and spread it evenly around the pan. Season lightly with salt.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cook for five minutes on a high flame, stirring frequently. You'll see the rice floating around the pan. If it is not, add an extra 1/2 cup of stock.
Add the shrimp to the pan evenly positioned around. Submerge. Do the same with clams and lobster tails. Add frozen peas on top.
Place the paella pan on the lowest oven shelf for around 25 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
Return to stove top to get a nice brown crust on the bottom.
When the dish is done, sprinkle capers on top and squeeze some lemon juice on if you like it.
This crust is giving me problems guys. I usually take it off to soon from fear of burning the rice, because it happened once. I just suck at that finishing touch. I managed it a few times though and it makes a world of difference, it is the best part, so try not to skip it!
Make sure you pick the freshest ingredients available, and take your time to clean your peppers nicely from all the white parts and to dice it evenly and small. It makes a world of difference in the finished meal, and it is that much more special to eat it knowing all the attention to the detail and effort you put into it.
Like I said, you can play around with the seafood you will use. I hate mussels so I used clams. Scallops are lovely in it, specially if you are doing all seafood version, in which case I would add some nice chunks of white fish in it too.
One of the most important ingredients of paella is good quality saffron. It gives it that special color and flour.
Obviously, with saffron and all the seafood, this dish tends to be on the more expensive side, so we really enjoy it when I make it and I choose special occasions to cook it for.
I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we do! Bon appetit!