Paella

More of the social event that dinner, yet certainly a strong gourmand experience.. The quantities below will feed easily 6-8 people.

For the stock:

  • 1 live lobster (1-1.5 pounds)
  • 8 jumbo shrimp
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 small or medium onion
  • 1/2 green or red bell pepper
  • 2 or 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 3 or so black peppercorns

For the rest of the dish:

  • 100 ml olive oil
  • 2 or 3 whole boneless chicken breasts, cut up (or 8 small thighs)
  • 1/5 rabbit, cut up (optional)
  • 1 or 2 chorizo sausages
  • 1 medium onions
  • 1 bell peppers (preferably red and green, halves)
  • 2 (or more) garlic cloves
  • 1 or 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 or 3 peeled, seeded tomatoes
  • saffron
  • 700 ml Valencia rice
  • 4 squid
  • 6 smallish clams
  • 8 mussels
  • 3 raw crab claws (optional)
  • 5 crawfish (optional)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 200 ml cooked peas or green beans or both
  • 1-2 lemons
  • Italian parsley

Making the stock:

  1. Kill the lobsters by severing the artery at the base of their necks or have your fishmonger or someone else do it for you if you’re as squeamish as I turned out to be.
  2. Cut off their tails and claws.
  3. Leaving the shells on, cut the lobster tails into pieces at their natural divisions.
  4. Place the cut-up tails and claws into a covered container and refrigerate.
  5. Throw the lobster’s torso and head and so on into a large stock pot.
  6. Shell and devein the shrimp, throwing the shrimps’ shells into the stock pot along with the lobsters.
  7. Refrigerate the shelled shrimp in a covered container.
  8. Scrape the carrot and chop into 4 or 5 pieces.
  9. Dump it into the stock pot.
  10. Peel the onion and throw it into the stock pot.
  11. Roughly chop half of a green or red bell pepper and throw it into the stock pot, too.
  12. Peel some garlic cloves and add them along with a couple bay leaves, tablespoon salt, and some black peppercorns.
  13. Add water to cover (and, if you have some on hand, a cup or two of fish stock), bring to a boil and then lower the heat and cover, simmering it for about an hour. Strain the stock and reserve and throw away the solids.

Making the paella

  1. Heat your paellera(s)and add enough olive oil to be respectable. (Use your judgment: about a half cup, maybe more, per pan.)
  2. Saute, in batches, the chicken breasts, rabbit, and cut-up chorizo until they colour a bit. (You don’t want to cook them completely, but you don’t want them raw, either, and besides, you want the chicken and rabbit to be goldeny.)
  3. Remove the chicken, rabbit and chorizo and set aside.
  4. Saute your chopped up onions along with chopped-up bell peppers over medium heat until the onion is translucent.
  5. Add some minced garlic (however much you’d like) and saute for a couple more minutes.
  6. Add a couple crumbled bay leaves, some chopped-up tomatoes that you’ve peeled and seeded already, and a hefty pinch of saffron. Don’t be stingy with the saffron.
  7. Add the cayenne (a teaspoon or more, depending on how much bite you want it to have) at the same time you add the tomatoes and saffron.
  8. Saute this stuff for a few minutes until the tomatoes just start to break down and form a syrupy sauce with the olive oil.
  9.  Stir in the rice, making sure you’ve got everything nicely mixed together, and then pour in some (use your judgment)  of the lobster broth.
  10. Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the broth up to a boil.
  11. Cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes, then add the pre-sauteed chicken and rabbit and chorizo.
  12. Cook for another 5 or so minutes until the rice starts to plump up a little bit.
  13. Add the cut-up lobster tails, shrimp, crab claws, squid (which you’ve cut into rings), clams, mussels, crawfish, and whatever other similar kind of creature you bought for the paella. Make sure to bury this stuff as much as you can into the rice.
  14. Mix it all up very well, then pour in the wine.
  15. Let this entire mess o’ stuff cook, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, by which time the rice will have absorbed most of the liquid and the clams and mussels will have opened and everything should be nicely cooked. While it’s getting to that point you should stir it all around a little from time to time, but don’t stir it up all the way from the bottom: you want a nice crusty thing to happen down there.
  16.  A few minutes before it’s ready stir in the peas and/or green beans, and put 1/2 of that red pepper you have left over – and have cut into strips — on top.
  17. When it’s done, remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes.
  18. Garnish with lemons cut into smallish wedges and scatter a little chopped flat-leaf parsley on top.
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