Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Easy Seafood, Chicken or Vegetarian mixed Paella Recipe

I've made this a couple times in the past, and love the versatility (and one pan sha-bang) of this Spanish traditional hearty and packed with flavors rice casserole.  Now, for the purists out there.. stop reading.  I don't have a nice paella pan (yet) though some of my girlfriends do... The first time I made this...it was -40C (and interestingly it converts to -40F!), I was not about to tromp outside, build up a nice fragrant fire and attempt to barely warm the paella over it.  If you do - take some pictures and let me know! But I made do with a deep non-stick pan and stovetop... and have time to relax while it simmers!  On to the recipe!

Yes, stovetop methods don't include a nice woodfire smokey taste, but you can create the prized crunchy rice bottom called socrrat by turning up the heat to high and toasting the pan bottom for a few minutes at the very end.  I love traditional methods, but with this dish, I'll stick to the easy peasy stove top method rather than freeze my tushie outside over a hot coals... I may try the traditional method once Old Man Winter packs up his bags… since I'm fortunate to live in Canada.. and just north enough the growing season doesn't begin until after mother's day… I'll be a ways yet before I can give that a whirl.  in the meantime, I just used one of my go to deep frying pans: A deep 5 quart non-stick frying pan
This paella version was made with salmon fillets, chicken thighs, large shrimp, chorizo and baby scallops
And finally, yes, please do splurge on the atrociously expensive saffron.  Substitution with tumeric and other spices just doesn't cut it.  Ante up and use the pricey saffron - its hand harvested flower parts that give this dish the wonderful flavor and yellow coloring, so there is a reason why its $20 for a few grams!
This paella version was made with fresh mussels, chorizo and basa fillets.
So, as I mentioned earlier, this is a one pan recipe (yaaaah for those that hate washing dishes!), and with washing of veges, chopping and prep time, this recipe takes from 30-45min total to put together... and this includes the 20min simmering time you can kick back with a glass of wine, beer or cuppa tea/java.  Either serve it directly from the pan, or plated into bowls, this relatively quick recipe is super easy and a great dish for your family or entertaining.

Easy seafood, chicken or vegetarian mixed Paella recipe. Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients
Aromatics
-6 cloves garlic minced
-1 tsp red chili pepper flakes
-3/4 tsp saffron threads (crush between your fingers as you add it in)
-1 bay leaf
-1/2 bunch of cilantro chopped

Protein ( chose one or 2 or 3 of):
-a dozen mussels in shell, cleaned
-1/2 lb chorizo or tofu sausage (about 2 - 6 inch sausages, squeeze out the meat, discard sausage casing)
-1.5 cups deep fried tofu or 1 cup firm tofu cut into slices or 1 inch cubes
-1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined and patted dry
-10-12 medium sized scallops, cleaned and patted dry
-1 cup baby scallops
-*4 boneless chicken thighs, cubed into 1 inch pieces
-*1/2 lb fresh fish fillets, cleaned and patted dry (salmon, trout, pickeral)
For all * proteins, marinate with 1 tsp paprika and 1 tsp dried oregano

Vegetables
-1 onion diced
-1 sweet bell pepper diced
-1 small can diced tomatoes drained or 1 cup fresh tomatos diced
*Optional*
If you like extra vegetables, add in at the vegetable stage
-1/2 cup sweet peas
-1/2 cup corn niblets

Rest of the ingredients

-2 teaspoons olive oil only if no sausage is used
-2 cups uncooked rice (I use jasmine as that's what I had in my cupboard, but any rice works...do not use instant rice!)
-4 cups chicken stock (use low sodium or homemade if possible- more control of salt in this paella)

How To:

1) In a deep skillet pan (this makes a lot!), if using the sausage, brown over medium high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into small bite sized pieces (or smaller if you like).  Cook for 6-7 minutes until its thoroughly cooked through and no traces of pink remain.  Drain oil from pan, reserving the sausage.
2) If no sausage was used, add olive oil to pan over medium high heat.  Add in garlic, chili flakes, safron, bay leaf and stir for a minute or two until nice and fragrant.
3) Add in vegetables, mix will and cook for 2-3 minutes until onions are translucent (its the one that takes the longest to cook)
4) Add in rice mix well, then add in broth and bring to a boil.
5) You can either add in your chicken, fish, scallops at this point, or cook them with a tsp of oil in another pan for chicken (6-7 min), fish (5min), scallops (3-4min) and add them in at the end.  If using mussels, arrange on top of rice to steam.  If using fried or firm tofu, push down into the broth.
6) Cover the pan, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20minutes.  Add fully cooked seafood/proteins on top if using, turn off heat and leaving the pan covered, let rest for an additional 10 min - this lets the rice absorb all the broth.
7. Relax with a beer, vino, coffee or tea while it simmers. Remove bay leaf, season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.  Dig in!


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