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Paella Delivery to Celebrate Forty-Eight Years


This is a slightly belated post, but I was reminded to finish it up when my best friend posted that her son had made paella. Last month, my parents celebrated forty-eight years of marriage. And, because of the coronavirus pandemic and - at that time - eighteen weeks of being sheltered in place, we couldn't celebrate with them. Boo. But we brought over a pan of paella and wished them well from a socially responsible distance.


Normally I would make dinner for all six of us and we would enjoy a nice celebration around our table. But that is not the world in which we're living right now. Before the shelter-in-place orders, they were a huge part of our daily lives. Now, we see them from a distance and fully-masked when we get closer...but still not closer than six-feet.


So, I loaded up the smaller paella pan, a freshly baked sourdough boule, some sparkling drinks, flowers, and a card. We headed over to bring them a celebration dinner delivery!


For years, my paella pan languished in the cupboard, collecting dust. Then a friend from Spain gave me a paella lesson. And it's been on our table pretty often after that. I just needed a confidence boost and a nudge. If I might say so myself, I have mastered getting that desired socarrat at the bottom of the rice! Practice indeed makes perfect.

For this version I went with prawns, chicken thighs, and baby octopus for this paella party. I made two pans' worth. You can halve this recipe for a single pan.

Ingredients serves 12
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 pound fresh shrimp, peeled (peels and heads reserved)
  • 1/3 pound baby octopus
  • 12 Tablespoons olive oil (1 T per serving)
  • 2 organic onions, peeled and diced
  • 2 bell peppers (I used a yellow bell pepper and a red bell pepper)
  • 5 ripe, organic tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups diced zucchini (this is not traditional, but I had a bounty of zucchini to use up)
  • 4 cups Spanish paella rice
  • 2 generous pinches saffron
  • 2 Carmencita Paella Spice Mix sachets+
  • 2 coloring packets, optional+ 
  • 7 to 8 cups fish stock, warmed
  • 1 to 2 cups white wine

+ My friends from Spain used these and they brought some back from Spain for me, so I use it. But, in a pinch, you can add a blend of paprika, pepper, and clove to the pot. These packets also include a food coloring that makes regular paella a rich golden color.

Procedure

Peel and dice the onions. Deseed and dice the bell pepper. Heat olive oil in the paella pan. Stir in the onions and bell pepper. Cook the chicken through. Sauté until the onion is softened and translucent. Add in the tomatoes and cook until they have lost their shape slightly, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the zucchini.

Sprinkle the seasoning packet into the pot and add the saffron to the side so it's not where the heat is most concentrated. Tip in the rice.


Nestle the shrimp and baby octopus into the rice. Pour in the stock and the wine. At this point, do not stir. Gently shake the pan to distribute the rice and seafood evenly. But do not stir. Ever. As Juan instructed me: "This is not risotto."

Bring the pan to a boil, then turn down to a simmer. Watch the pan and keep turning it so that the rice cooks evenly. As it cooks, the stock will be fully absorbed.

You will see fewer and fewer bubbles popping up through the top. When it is completely dry, it's done. The rice should also be crackling. It reminds me of rice krispies. Snap, crackle, and pop!

When you no longer see any bubbles, remove the pan from the heat. The shrimp should be opaque. Tent it with foil and let it steam for 10 more minutes.


To serve, use a flat spatula to scrape the soccarat from the bottom. Invert the scoop onto the individual plates to show off your soccarat, that delicious, crusty goodness on the bottom of the pan!

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