Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Feast Round Three

When holiday feasting if you go traditional for Rounds One and Two, you must go non-traditional for Round Three.  Last weekend Baked Ham, this weekend…Ultimate Paella!


Nothing says Christmas like Spanish-style seafood and rice.  :)


Since I cooked last weekend, Michael cheffed it up this time.  He wanted a one-pot wonder with some pizzazz and came up with idea of a giant delicious feast of Paella.  One pot turned into four pans…but improvisation is part of the fun, no?  A trip through the Google machine brought us to this pretty amazing Tyler Florence recipe.


An Ultimate Paella

adapted from Foodnetwork.com

Feeds an army (10+ people)


  • Spice Mix for chicken (2 tbsp Spanish paprika, 2 tbsp dried oregano, salt and freshly ground pepper)
  • 16 chicken pieces, thighs and/or breasts (bone-in, skin on) 
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
  • 1 small Spanish onion, diced
  • 1 small green pepper, diced
  • 1 small red pepper, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • Bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes, drained and crushed
  • 6 cups short grain Spanish rice
  • 8 cups water, warm
  • Generous pinch saffron threads
  • 1 pound clams, scrubbed
  • 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
  • 1 pound large scallops 
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup frozen sweet peas, thawed
  • Lemon wedges, for serving



  1. Combine Chicken Spice Mix ingredients in a small bowl. Rub the spice mix all over the chicken and marinate chicken for 1 hour in the refrigerator, covered.
  2. Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the chorizo until browned, remove and reserve. Add chicken skin-side down and brown on all sides. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and reserve.  (Note: We did this in advance.)
  3. In the same pan, make a sofrito by sautéing the onions and peppers over med-high heat for about 2 minutes, then add garlic and parsley and cook for another minute or two. Then add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit.
  4. (At this point we divided the mixture evenly into three skillets to accommodate the quantity of rice.)  Fold in the rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. Pour in 4 cups of the water and simmer for 10 minutes, gently stirring so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. 
  5. Add chicken, chorizo, and saffron.
  6. Add the clams, shrimp and scallops…tucking the seafood into the rice.
  7. Continue adding water as needed to help the rice fill out and cook through.
  8. Let it simmer, without much stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 15 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.  When the seafood is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 40 seconds until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom, then it's perfect.  (Note: This toasted rice bottom is called socarrat.)
  9. Remove from heat and rest for 5 minutes. Stir in the peas.  Garnish with parsley and lemon wedges.


It sounds like a lot of work, but we did as much in advance as we could.  Prepped the veggies.  Cooked the sausage and chicken.  Cleaned the seafood.  Mashed the tomatoes.  Thawed the peas.

When our guests arrived and had wine in hand we ventured on over to the stove and got the show on the road.  Michael rocked it out even when the rice outgrew the first three pans and he had to start a fourth “overflow” pan.  We enlisted one of our guests as an additional sous chef to help stir and it all came together!


We do highly recommend getting a real paella pan and maybe reducing the amount of rice, but aside from the mass quantity this produced we were really happy with the recipe.  Personally I’d love to make up a batch using just the shrimp and chorizo…stars of the show! 


And after all that I damn near failed at getting a photo of the finished product.  Too busy filling my face.  Nom.

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