My friends, the Harmons, have an annual "Concert in the Garden" party. For the past couple of years we have still been in the BVI's. I was so happy the timing worked out this year.
It was a wonderful afternoon of entertainment and dining al fresco in the their lovely garden amphitheater.
Three local Santa Barbara bands played, The Debra Farris Band, DHL Express and Susan Reeves and Friends.
My friend, Holli's, art studio is adjacent to the garden. Just another bonus... enjoying her amazing artwork! Check it out at holliharmon.com!
Holli and Terry asked me if I would make Paella to feed the crowd. I was super excited to take on the challenge... especially when I saw this gran Paella pan!
Just check out this color!
Not to take away from the talented bands, but the Paella process turned out to be quite the attraction.
All of the stages were just so beautiful!
We fed about 80 people... with lots of seconds.
My little brown dog tuckered out with all the excitement of Paella making!
What a great party!
There are lots of different types of Paella. For this large group I made a very classic "Americanized" smoky version of paprika, chorizo, chicken and shrimp. The traditional "Valenciana" version is typically made with rabbit, snails and chicken. I think that's whats great about Paella, you can really have fun experimenting with different ingredients. But... stick to the basic instructions. The sofrito and the socarrat (the thin layer of caramelized rice on the bottom of the pan) are the most important parts of this dish.
I scaled my recipe way down for you. I'm sure most of you won't be cooking for 80 people. It's fun to cook this over an open fire and Paella is traditionally done this way, however, it does make it a little more challenging to control the heat. If you are cooking over an open fire, you will want to use a hard wood such as oak and start the fire way in advance so it can burn down to coals. You will want to spread the coals out evenly in the fire pit.
If you don't want to attempt this, you can also cook over your stovetop. I think it's well worth the challenge cooking over an open fire.... makes for such a fun party. How about an "End of Summer Celebration"?!
I know there are a lot of steps to this recipe, but it's actually not as hard as it appears and believe me, it's so worth the effort!
The Paella was muy sabroso... very tasty!!
Recipe Type: Main Dish
Serves: 6 to 8
- 30 threads Saffron
- 7 C Chicken Broth
- 1 lb boneless skinless Chicken Thighs, cut into 2 inch pieces, pat dry with paper towels
- 8 oz dry-cured Spanish Chorizo, cut into 1/4 inch thick coins
- 10 large Shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 4 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 small Onion, minced
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- 3 medium Tomatoes, minced
- 1 T smoked Spanish Paprika (Pimenton de la Vera)
- 3 dried Bay Leaves
- Kosher Salt and freshly Ground Pepper, to taste
- 2 1/2 C short grain Spanish Rice such as Bomba
- 1/4 C Red Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1/4 C Yellow Bell Pepper, chopped
- 1 12 oz jar Artichoke Hearts, drained
- 8 oz fresh or frozen Peas
- 3 Piquillo Peppers or Roasted Red Peppers (jarred), cut small
- Fresh Parsley, chopped
- Lemons sliced in wedges
- Toast Saffron in large pan until fragrant about 30 seconds
- Take pan off heat and crush with back of spoon
- Add Chicken Broth to pan, heat to boil and remove from heat, let Broth infuse with Saffron
- Add 2 T Olive Oil to Paella pan
- Add Chicken, brown slightly
- Add Chorizo, cook until browned
- Add Shrimp and cook just until pink
- Remove Chicken, Chorizo and Shrimp from Paella pan and set aside[br]
- [b]To make the Sofrito (Spanish flavor base for Paella):[/b]
- Add 2 T Olive Oil to Paella pan
- Cook Onion and Garlic until softened
- Add Tomatoes, Spanish Paprika, Bay Leaves, Salt and Pepper to taste
- Cook Sofrito mixture in center of Paella pan until deep dark red and thick about 30 to 40 minutes
- Add Bomba Rice to Sofrito mixing well and let cook 1 to 2 minutes
- Stir in Saffron and Broth mixture
- Add Chicken, Chorizo and Shrimp
- Add Artichoke Hearts, Peas, Red and Yellow Peppers
- Do not stir rice after this point
- Bring to a boil and maintain vigorous simmer. Reposition pan as needed and cook about 18 minutes. If Broth is evaporating too quickly, adjust heat or add more Broth or water 1/4 C at a time. Rice should be al dente.
- You want the rice to toast slightly at the bottom, which is called socorrat. A very thin layer of crust on the bottom is optimum. You can test this by very carefully inserting a spoon to the bottom of the pan. You should feel a bit of resistance.
- Remove from heat and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes covered loosely with foil
- Sprinkle Piquillo or Roasted Red Peppers and fresh Parsley on top
- Place Lemon wedges
- Serve hot[br]
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