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  1. This is my entry into the Seafood Challenge. I’ve wanted to try this for some time and finally got up the nerve to do it. Yep I’m hosting a Paella Party! Which a pretty full house of guests (10 total) coming I hope it turns out well. Now, after surfing the Web I came to realize that there is no one recipe to follow as everyone did something different. So this is a combination of 3 or 4 recipes I found on the web taking things I liked from them all. (Bear with me as this is a long one) The first thing I learned was you don’t use regular (long grain) rice. Traditionally you’d use a short grain variety called Bomba rice. I couldn’t find this variety but Arborio rice (used to make Risotto) is supposed to be a good substitute so that’s what I used. The second thing I learned was you need a wide, shallow and flat, heavy bottom pan to cook it in. They make “Paella” pans that are just for this. Unfortunately I didn’t have one nor do I have the room for such a specialized pan. I did however have a 15”, flat, heavy bottom braiser pan. It’s not shallow but I can control the ingredient amounts to make the paella level shallow inside the pan. The third thing I learned was that it all about the prep work before you start the cooking process. Everything needs to be cut up, portioned and ready to be put into the pan in the proper order. The order all depending on how long it takes to cook. Here are most of the ingredients. (Chicken and squid not shown) Clams and mussels Prawns (There were alive yesterday) 1 lb. of U15 shrimp. Before my guests arrived I made up some white Sangria and put it in the fridge for the flavors to meld together. O.K., here I’m getting started on the Paella. I sliced and diced up all my veggies. (In my hurrying around I forgot to put these Red Bell Pepper slices on) I de-boned the chicken thighs. And made stock with the bones. As I don’t possess a Mortar & Pestle I put the Saffron threads into a 1 cup Pyrex measuring cup and used a spoon to crush them. I then put 1/2 cup of white wine in with them and brought this to a boil in the microwave to pull out all the flavor of the Saffron. I then cut up the sausage into ¼” slices. (Use Spanish Chorizo if you can get it. I couldn’t find this so I use Portuguese Linguica) Chicken stock is ready. (I poured in 1 container of store bought stock to what I made and continued to reduce) I peeled the shrimp and reserved shells to make up a Shrimp & Saffron Stock. I put the shells into a sauté pan with a little EVOO and sautéd until they started to turn orangey pink in color. Now I added 1/2 cup of clam juice, the Saffron broth, 4 cups of chicken stock and simmered for 20 minutes. While that was simmering I lit the kamado. I then took everything (but the red bell peppers) out to my gas cook top. I heated up some OO and seared the chicken thighs. Removed and reserved. (Note: Unless you have a very wide burner (which I didn’t) you’ll need to rotate your pan every couple of minutes for even heat distribution) I then cooked up the Linguica. Removed and reserved. Now heated the onions and bell peppers until they start to wilt. Added the minced garlic and continued to cook for another minute or 2. Now the 2 diced tomatoes and continued to cook until it starts to caramelize and then add 3 bay leaves. Now add the rice in the shape of a cross. Stir the rice into all that flavor goodness and let it toast for 2 to 3 minutes. (Until you start to hear some cracklin) Now add the wonderful (and still hot) Shrimp and Saffron broth. You should hear some sizzling when it hits the pan. Shake the pan to try and level everything out and do not stir it again. Now evenly redistribute the chicken and Linguica into the pan. Move it over to your pre-heated (to 425) kamado and let this cook for 15 minutes. (I forgot to add the peas and green beans until after the picture) After 15 minutes you’ll notice the liquid has reduced nicely. Now I add the mussels (too many) and the squid and cook for 2 minutes. Now I add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute. Now I add the clams and cook for 2 minutes and then finally add the prawns and cook for 5 minutes. I now checked to see if my rice was done. There was still quite a bit of liquid bubbling as the mussels and clams had opened up, releasing their juice. (there were too many mussels) So I open the lid and let my fire get really hot to try and reduce the liquid further. Ideally you want the liquid to be almost completely absorbed and a slight crust start to form on the bottom of the pan. After most of the liquid was gone I took the pan inside and added some fresh lemon wedges. Poured the Sangria. I garnished with parsley and it’s ready to serve to my quests. Here are those pics. Here’s the money shot below. OMG! Having never made this before I’ll have to say it was a lot of work but it is sooooo worth it. Flavor was unbelievable. The actual cooking isn’t that hard so long as you’ve done all your prep work beforehand. I urge you all to give this a try.
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