This is a classic seafood paella originating from Valencia, Spain. We start by making our soffrito or flavor base and then slowly add the other components, based on cooking time, to create an amazing almost dry rice stew that is one of the most festive dishes you will ever see. The bomba rice from Spain is critical as its short, fat grains are able to absorb an extraordinary amount of liquid while remaining firm to the bite. Please note that this dish can be done with rabbit instead of chicken.
INGREDIENTS (serves 8-12)
-1 paellera (18 to 20 inches in diameter) or similar size cast iron pan (see Latienda.com for sources)
-Good extra virgin olive oil (ideally from Spain)
-4 tablespoons of pimenton dulce (sweet Spanish paprika)
-1 large white onion, finely chopped
-1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
-4 quarts of home-made chicken stock (see below for preparation details)
-10-12 chicken thighs, lightly salted & skin removed (just pull it off with your hands)
-1 tablespoon saffron threads
-Sherry vinegar from Spain
-1 pound Romano or green beans cut into 2 inch pieces
-1/2 pound cured Spanish chorizo, cut into 1 inch round pieces
-2 lemons, thinly sliced for garnish
-2 cups early girl tomatoes, chopped into wedges or canned Spanish or San Marzano tomatoes (crushed by hand)
-3.5 cups of “bomba” Spanish rice from Valencia
Heat your paella pan over high heat until almost smoking (assemble across 2 burners if necessary, if you have a French flat top use that, heating the flat top 30 minutes prior). Add in 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the chicken pieces and brown on both sides (8-10 minutes). Remove chicken to a plate for later use.
Add the chicken thighs back to the pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and brown over medium high heat. When deep dark golden brown, move to one side of the pan (stack if necessary).
Add the onions and garlic with a generous pinch of salt and sautee. If the onions start to burn turn down the heat and drizzle in more olive oil. Once soft and translucent (1-2 minutes) add tomatoes followed by the pimenton, saffron and 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar. Salt the tomatoes. Stir to combine and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat back up to high.
Pour in all of the rice and stir through the pan. Allow the rice to absorb the flavors of the chicken and soffrito for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock to just cover the chicken and bring to a boil. Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the green beans.
Continue cooking until almost all the liquid is absorbed and the rice begins to look a bit “sticky.” Be sure to taste occasionally and add salt if needed. Turn off the heat and allow to rest for a few minutes. Garnish with thinly sliced lemon pieces. Serve the entire pan at the table family style. If you’ve cooked this dish well you will discover nice browned bits on the bottom of the pan. This is called the “socorrat” and is absolutely delicious and full of flavor.
FOR THE CHICKEN STOCK
-2 uncooked chicken legs, skin on
-2 carrots chopped in half
-2 stalks of celery chopped in half
-1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped in half
-1 garlic clove, peeled
-1 bay leaf
Put all of the ingredients into a large pot and fill with water. Bring to barely a boil and turn down the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for at least 1 hour or up to 3 until the liquid has reduced by about 30%. Skim off any fat that rises to the surface and discard. Pass through a fine mesh sieve and pour into a clean pot. Your stock is ready for use.