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The Spanish Table’s Classic Paella
5 threads saffron
1/2 cup warm dry white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil per serving capacity of the pan, enough to completely cover bottom of the pan when it is cool (the oil will expand as it heats)
1 piece chicken, such as a thigh
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 to 1 soft Spanish-style cooking chorizo
1/2 cup uncooked Valencian rice
1/2 teaspoon sweet or bittersweet pimentón
1/8 cup grated tomato (cut in half, grate, and discard the skin)
1 cup liquid per 1/2 cup rice, such as clam juice or water
1 cup chicken stock per 1/2 cup of rice, more if using bomba
2 shrimp and/or prawns
2 to 4 small clams and/or mussels
Cooked garrofón beans from Valencia (alubias), optional Some vegetables: red piquillo or morrón peppers cut in strips, peas, green beans, and/or artichoke hearts Minced parsley for garnish Lemon wedges for garnish
This style of paella is what most people associate with the name. Paella is cooked in a pan by adding ingredients progressively and allowing their flavors to merge and mingle and be absorbed into the rice. Ingredients are never removed once they are added. Exception: when using a pan slightly beyond its capacity, I remove the chicken pieces and keep them warm until everything else is in the pan and then I put them back on top where they can float on the surface, rising slightly above the rim of the pan. u Measurements are per serving so use this list as a multiplication table.
1 Dissolve the saffron in the wine and set aside.
2 At a medium temperature, heat the olive oil in a paella pan that is large enough to hold the number of servings you need. Add chicken and fry, turning, until golden brown. When chicken juice runs clear, add garlic and onions and sauté until translucent. Add chorizo and cook until heated through and beginning to sweat fat. Then add the rice and pimentón, stirring until well coated with oil, about one minute. Add the grated tomato followed by the liquid, stock, and the saffron and wine mixture. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of pan, and adjust heat to maintain a simmer. Add the seafood–pushing the clams hinge side down into the paella–then add beans and other vegetables you are using.
3 When you add the liquid, time for 25 minutes and then check to see if the rice is done. At this point, it is traditional to let the paella dormir, or rest, for 15 minutes while the cook has an aperitif. The paella is loosely covered, in Spain often with a section of the daily newspaper (but not the section with the soccer scores). I set a sheet of aluminum foil over the paella without crimping the edges so it can breathe a little.
4 Sprinkle with minced parsley, garnish with lemon wedges, and serve.