Last night we spent Christmas eve with our closest friends Amit and Sonia. It was a pre- Christmas celebration to exchange gifts and hang out. Sonia has invited us over for a traditional manglorian style Christmas dinner tonight and knowing what a good cook she is I'm sure the spread is going to be delicious. I will post Sonia's recipes in a separate section of my blog soon. Well since she was making all the food for tonight's big dinner and also had mass to go to and not to forget a 3 year old as well, I decided to make the main dish for the Christmas eve dinner. I chose Paella, a traditional spanish rice dish. You can learn more about it on
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paella. Its like a seafood pulav with saffron. This is how I make it. This recipe serves 6-8 people and I make it without the standard chorizo sausage. There are a number of ingredients and seafood can be expensive so its nice to make for a special occasion. Amit made some yummy Sangria to go with this. It indeed was a very "Merry Christmas".
Rice 3 1/2 cups, washed with water and soaked in water till ready to use
2 medium onions diced
2 fresh tomatoes diced
1/2 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
red and green peppers cut into strips
2 tsp chopped garlic
1 cup parsley
Bone in-chicken without skin, cut into pieces-1 pound
Pork 1 pound, cut into pieces (optional), can add chorizo sausage if desired
Mussels or clams- about 10 to 15, I buy one store bag from the seafood section
Uncooked unpeeled deveined shrimp 1/2 pound (can add any other seafood too like crab legs, lobsters)
2 bay leaves
dried Thyme, eye ball it.
8 to 10 threads of saffron, add to a tblsp of hot water.
red chilly powder, according to taste add as much as you like
lime juice 2 tblsp
salt to taste
Peel shrimp, leaving the tail shell on. Save shells. Add shells to 3 cups of chicken broth with bay leaves, 1 tsp thyme and a couple of sprigs of parsley. Let the broth come to a boil and then let it simmer. One can use a seafood broth also but I like to season the chicken broth with the seafood flavor this way. Season mussels and shrimp with lime juice and salt.
Season pork and chicken pieces with salt, pepper, thyme and red chilly powder. Heat olive oil in the paella pot. Brown chicken and pork pieces. Set aside.
After browning meat, add simmering broth to the hot pan to deglaze the pan and to get all the pan drippings into the broth. Whisk when you add the broth to get all the drippings. Remove broth and keep aside.
Heat oilve oil. Add garlic and onions. Fry till onions turn transparent. Add tomatoes. Let it cook till all the water from the tomatoes dries up. Add green pepper and peas. Fry.
Add Rice, seafood, chicken, pork,rest of the parsley,saffron and salt to taste. Mix well.After this do not mix the cooking rice. Add broth and additional chicken broth to double the volume of the rice (7 cups in this case).
Cook uncovered till the rice is cooked but not mushy.Paella is cooked uncovered,so do not cover the dish. If needed add more broth to aid the cooking. I didn't need to do that. Serve hot.