It had been almost a year since we grilled a paella outdoors on the paella grill. And unfortunately, we weren’t going to be able to do so on the weekend we had invited some friends over for this outdoor experience. The 2014 summer weekends had been consistently splendid up to this point, but this particular Saturday proved uncharacteristic in that it rained almost all day and into the evening. But alas, making paella (a saffron-flavored Spanish dish made with varying combinations of rice, vegetables, meat, chicken, and/or seafood) is very flexible and something you can make over your kitchen stove—which is what we did.
Our guests—two other couples who all once resided in my old Yardley ‘hood before I moved to Langhorne—contributed to the Spanish theme with appetizers of grilled eggplant rounds dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar topped with tomato slices, feta cheese and basil, and an antipasto platter of sorts with Serrano ham and manchego cheese rolls, sliced chorizo and olives; and we uncorked numerous bottles of Temperanillo red wine, among other requested cocktails. So despite the inclement weather, we were determined to make the most of great food, ample libations and engaging company.
Paella might be the world’s most perfect company dish—from the drama of presenting the giant pan at the table, to the beautifully seasoned, addictively flavorful rice.
The raw ingredients
Chicken thigh pieces browning in the paella pan
Russ stirring the paella as it cooks
Brad assists in the compilation of the caprese salad
Meat is pushed to the edges while the grated tomato is added
The paella ingredients before the bomba rice is added.
The story continues after the recipe…
- 3/4 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
- 3/4 pound boneless rabbit meat, cut into small pieces
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton)
- 5 cups chicken stock or canned broth
- Large pinch saffron, crumbled
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 ounces flat (Romano) green beans or string beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
- 9-ounce package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and patted dry
- 3/4 cup frozen butter beans or baby lima beans, thawed and patted dry
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed through a press
- 2 large, ripe tomatoes, halved and grated on a box grater, then skins discarded
- 1-1/2 cups short-grain Spanish rice such as bomba, or Italian risotto rice, such as vialone nano orarborio
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 roasted red pepper, cut into strips, for garnish
- Rub the chicken and rabbit generously with salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the paprika and let stand until ready to use.
- In a 15- to 16-inch paella pan set over one burner, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat until it starts to smoke. Add the chicken and rabbit and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the green beans, artichokes, and lima beans and stir for another 2 to 3 minutes. Push everything to the periphery of the pan where the heat is low. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the oil to the center of the pan. Add the garlic and stir over moderate heat for a few seconds. Add the grated tomatoes. Turn the heat down and cook, stirring several times, until the tomato turns dark and thick, about 8 minutes. With two wooden spoons, push the meat pieces and the vegetables toward the center of the pan and mix them with the tomato. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of paprika and stir everything for 30 seconds.
- Add the rice and stir it gently to coat with the pan mixture. If using Spanish bomba rice, pour 4 cups of the warm broth into the pan. (If using Italian rice, add 3 cups, keeping a little more for later). Set the pan over two burners, tuck in the rosemary sprig, and shake the pan lightly to distribute the rice evenly. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is level with the rice and the rice begins to soften, 7 to 8 minutes. Do not stir the rice; periodically, move and rotate the pan so that the liquid boils evenly.
- Taste the rice: if it seems too raw, add 1/2 cup more stock to the pan. Place the paella pan in the oven and bake until the rice is tender but still a little al dente, about 15 minutes. Remove the paella pan from the oven, place two pieces of damp paper towel directly on the rice so that it covers the surface, and let stand for about 10 minutes. Remove the paper towels and let the paella stand for another 5 minutes. Decorate the paella with roasted pepper strips and serve straight from the pan.
Spanish bomba rice traditionally used for paella requires more liquid than other short grain rice varieties. Make sure to taste the rice as it cooks to determine exactly how much liquid to add.
Hold on, we didn’t forget dessert! And of course it had to go with the Spanish theme, so Russ made homemade Blueberry Cream Cheese Flan. But that will have to be another blog…