Friday, June 6, 2008


I have always enjoyed cooking for my family and friends and my last experience was just experience!

For some years now, I had in mind to make a Paella, a typical Spanish dish. Typical yes, but there seems to be as many ways to make it as there are cooks...I went online, checked the usual culinary websites, some blogs and finally decided to get my aunt's recipe. She makes it for me every so often when I go back home for a month in the summer...home in France that is!!

Her recipe was good but there was no food amounts...I resorted to my father's recipe which had lots of amounts!!!! And then decided to make my own... and it was a success!

I made it for Memorial weekend... not very orthodox I agree, but paired with the smoked ribs my husband prepared, our sixty and some guests were happy!

To prepare this Paella, I used my parents 27-inch Paella pan, which I had brought back from one of my trips home, a tripod and a special burner I got online. I set it all up outside (did I mention that it is best prepared outdoors?!), and spent the next hour or so finding a spot protected from the wind and leveling the apparatus!

I was finally ready to start cooking.


20 pieces of chicken, thighs and drumsticks
5 lb calamari
5 lb mussels
3 lb clams (Little Necks)
3 lb large shrimps, peeled and deveined
3 lb monkfish (if available)
2 lb Chorizo

5 big tomatoes, chopped into large chunks
4 onions, chopped
1 head of garlic, chopped
5 red bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1.5 bag of frozen peas

2 gallons chicken stock, or broth
Saffron (I get 2 small jars at Trader Joe's)
Piment d'Espelette

Olive oil

4 lb round rice (Spanish is best, but I used Arborio and it worked fine)

Ahead preparation:

Start by cooking the mussels in a separate pan, on the stove, with white wine and garlic. When open, set the mussels aside and repeat with the clams.

Also cook the calamari and shrimps ahead. You want to cook them either really fast or really long. Anywhere inbetween they become chewy. Saute the calamari in pan (outside) in olive oil and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Repeat with the shrimps.

Prepare the stock: heat with the saffron, Paprika and piment d'Espelette. You want the stock to be hot when you add it to the rice later.

Now let's get to the dish:

In the Paella pan, saute the chicken with olive oil ad garlic. When browned on all sides, push to the outside of the pan. Turn the meat regularly to avoid burning it.

In center of the pan, add oil if needed. Add red peppers, onions and more garlic. Saute until tender. Add tomatoes. Let cook a few more minutes and push to the side, in front of the chicken.

In center, add the chorizo. Saute for a few minutes and set to the side of the pan, with the red peppers.
Now to the rice: Add some oil and the rice, all at once. Saute the rice until it becomes transluscent. Add the hot stock, 2 cups at a time, and mix. Keep the rice in the center of the pan, and mix well. Stir often, making sure the rice does not stick too much to the bottom of the pan. When all the liquid has been absorbed, add more stock.

The whole process of cooking the rice takes between 30 and 45 minutes.

After the 2nd addition of stock, add the calamari, shrimps, mussels and clams on top of the chicken and vegetables. Don't mix them to the rice as it still needs work. The seafood needs heating, not cooking anymore.

You can also add the peas to the rice about 10 minutes before end of cooking time. This is for color! Finish with the stock. When the rice is cooked, serve!

This serves about 20 people.

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