When Eric and I took our trip to Spain in June, it was one of those amazing trips you know you will remember for a lifetime. It was our first time traveling together and while I think we were both a little nervous, we got along swimmingly. We swam, and hiked and biked and drank and relaxed and ate. We were together 24/7 and managed to not fight the entire time. That’s a lie, I did get a little snippy when I not so soberly fell down Jeanelle’s stairs and though I “broke” my arm.
The only complaint I had through out the entire trip was that the food was in my mind, sub par. I think the best meal we had the one I made myself. Almost everything was just alright. With one exception. Paella. Paella is delicious. It was something my formerly finicky taste buds had never experienced and it was heavenly. It was rich in flavor but not too heavy in my tummy. It had a whole meal in one little dish.
Paella is a Spanish saffron seasoned rice dish with shell fish and other proteins like chicken or sausage. I left out the other shell fish because I don't like the ones that really come in shells. Except for crab. And lobster. Those can stay.
When I left Spain I vowed to acquire a paella pan (you need a large pan to get everything in) and master it myself. Well, I failed at getting the pan (new brown suede heels were more important) but when Brett told me he wanted something with chorizo in it, I decided I had to go for it. Man oh man was it not a failure. It was actually really good. Despite the fact that I had to use a ridiculous amount of pots and pans, paella was actually really easy to make.
It even fed my brother and his army. Brett, Lindsey, Lish and I were able to get enough food because the boys couldn’t stay long. They had to head out for NGT. New Girl Tuesdayz.
Of course I couldn't just make one dish. I threw in a Potato Leek Soup and a Caesar Salad.
Love and Beer Floats
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups enriched white rice
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken broth or stock
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into thirds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 pound chorizo, casing removed and sliced on an angle
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp, 24 shrimp
18 green lipped mussels, cleaned
1 cup frozen peas
2 lemons zested
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 scallions, chopped
Crusty, bread for passing
In a very wide pan or paella pan, preheated over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, add rice and saute 2 or 3 minutes. Add saffron threads, bay leaf, broth, and thyme and bring liquids to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with lid or foil and reduce heat to simmer.
In a separate nonstick skillet, over medium high heat brown chicken on both sides in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add peppers and onions to the pan and cook 3 minutes longer. Add chorizo to the pan and cook 2 minutes more. Remove pan from heat.
After about 13 minutes, add shellfish to the rice pan, nesting them in cooking rice. Pour in peas, scatter lemon zest over the rice and seafood, then cover the pan again. After 5 minutes, remove cover or foil from the paella and discard any unopened mussel shells. Stir rice and seafood mixture and lift out bay and thyme stems, now bare of their leaves. Arrange cooked chicken and peppers, onions and chorizo around the pan. Top with parsley and scallions. Serve with wedges of lemon and warm bread.