A Perfect Paella

I had my first paella when I studied a semester in Spain, but it wasn’t until Jan saw it prepared multiple times on Top Chef that he quickly followed suit and we enjoyed this delicious dish together, many years later.

By now, Jan’s a paella expert, and he’s got his recipe perfected. Because the ingredients are basically mixed together and left to cook, following the proportions of rice and broth are important in creating perfectly cooked rice with a creamy consistency.

The concept of the dish is simple, and yet it makes for a sophisticated presentation. I’m always wowed by the aroma, the deep yellow color of the rice, and the abundance of seafood that seems to always be spilling over the pan.

We’ve seen special paella pans marketed to chefs at cookware shops, but a large sauté pan with a lid will do the job equally well. We start by browning the chicken in the pan, removing, and browning onions, garlic and bell peppers. The rice is added, then the chicken stock, and placed in the oven to cook. After about 20 minutes, the chicken is added back on top of the rice, along with the other meat and seafood desired. We cook this another 10-15 minutes in the oven, then add the shellfish and pop back into the oven until they open up.

Step one, choose your pan and brown the chicken

Remove chicken, brown peppers, garlic and onions, then add rice

Add broth, and then into the oven

Getting close!

After the addition of the colorful clams

We like to serve the paella family style so we can ooh and ahh over the contents of the big colorful pan. Serve along with a simple salad, with bread and butter on the side.


Jan’s Easy Paella

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Info

Serves 4

Cook + prep time: 1 hour

*Saffron is an essential ingredient in this dish.  It seems expensive but it goes a long way since you don’t have to use too much of it. It can be found at Whole Foods, World Market or online on Amazon.

Ingredients

  • ½ pound boneless chicken thighs or breast pieces
  • ½ pound large raw peeled shrimp
  • 1 hot link (cut into ¼” pieces)
  • 1 pound thawed frozen clams (I buy frozen pre-cooked clams found in most mega mart’s fish department)
  • 1 medium onion (medium dice)
  • 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
  • 1 small red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 oz. long grained rice
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pinch saffron*
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a oven safe sauté pan with lid.
  3. Season chicken with salt and pepper and sauté.
  4. Remove chicken from pan and set aside, and in the same pan, sauté onions, garlic and bell peppers.
  5. Add rice and sauté until translucent.
  6. In a separate dish, warm chicken stock and add the saffron to the warm chicken stock. Pour over rice and bring to a boil.
  7. Cover and place in oven for 20 minutes.
  8. Add shrimp, cooked chicken and hot link pieces to pan and cook in the oven, (covered) for another 10-15 minutes.
  9. Add clams and cook in the oven uncovered until clams have opened (approximately 5 minutes).

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