Paella is more accurately described as an 'event' than as a main course. It takes about 2 hours to prepare the ingredients, start the fire, and cook while friends and family look on. It's perfect for any time of year!
Paella tolerates substantial experimentation! The ingredients in this recipe are our usual family choices, but can and will differ slightly each time it is made. The amounts you use of certain ingredients can also vary, so don't worry if you have too much or too little of one ingredient.
A wood fire is best; either on a weber style grill or over an outdoor fire, but you will need a grill over the outdoor fire set up. In a grill, use quite a bit of charcoal to make a very hot fire.
Finally, use a paella pan for optimum results! A paella pan is a flat bottom round pan with angled sides, and 2 handles.
This process may seem daunting at first, but don't worry it's very difficult to ruin Paella!
1 whole chicken or 1 large package of chicken breasts
salt & pepper
8-9 bay leaves
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 teaspoon saffron
2 cups white rice
2-3 quarts chicken stock
1-2 cups good red wine
8 whole fresh tomatoes, or 1 to 1 1/2 large cans cooked whole tomatoes, wedged
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2-3/4 pound large, fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can black olives, drained and sliced lengthwise
1 fresh red pepper, chopped, or 1 jar pimentos, diced
1 cup fresh or frozen green peas
1 pound italian sausage, formed into small balls
Other seafood, such as squid cut in pieces, clams, crab, etc.
Other vegetables, such as artichoke hearts, onions
Other spices, such as dried hot red peppers, oregano, thyme
Cut the chicken into egg-size pieces, i.e. cut thigh in half along bone, cut breast halves in 3 pieces
Make about 2-3 quarts of stock with chicken back and trimmings (or buy stock if not using whole bird). When stock is finished, turn off heat and add saffron. Cover, and keep hot.
Prepare other meats and vegetables, and put in separate containers so they can easily be dumped into the cooking Paella.
Prepare a hot fire with enough coals or wood to last about 45 minutes. Make sure that grill is as level as possible!
Place paella pan on top of grill and add enough olive oil to coat nicely. Add bay leaves to flavor oil and then remove. Add chicken and saute until browned. If using sausage, brown it before the chicken and remove some of the fat before adding the chicken, if desired.
Add squid now, if using, and brown. Add garlic, then mushrooms, then wine, then tomatoes in succession, letting each cook a little before adding the next one.
Add rice, and cook a little, and then add stock, strained, to cover all ingredients. Add hot red peppers now, if desired.
When rice is half cooked, add shrimp, red pepper, black olives, and peas. Add more liquid to cover, and cook until done. It should be moist, but not soupy. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve in paella pan, if possible, and place in the center of your table so everyone can enjoy the beautiful colors, textures, and aroma, and serve themselves. Beware of the blackened bottom of the pan -- protect your table!
Serve with crusty french bread, and a yummy green salad. Pass the Louisiana style hot sauce for those who like a kick of heat!