|Paella a la McLean (Rev I)
back, we had a dinner for eight. We decided to do Cioppino
and had all but filled out our
when The Little Woman saw a write-up on paella in the current Williams-Sonoma
catalog. "You've done cioppino to death, why not do paella?"
"Why not," said I. (Besides, I thought, maybe I can go buy a paella
pan.) The Little Woman read my thoughts again as she said, "You
can use the big roaster pan in the garage instead of one of those special
paella pans, which I don't even want to hear about." So, paella was
the dish for that Saturday night. Not having made it at home, I dug
out recipes from four books (Peterson, McClane,
Wolfert and Labensky) and bounced them against the school recipe in
my Chef's Companion. Paella, by the way, is a rice dish with
meat, fish, shellfish and short grain rice seasoned with paprika and saffron--all
cooked and presented in a round shallow pan.
I then paid special attention to the Seafood Paella recipe in
the The Gourmet Cookbook (page 349).
The whole article was attractivethe best, by far, of my five references.
It started out with: "True, [paella] is a somewhat daunting project, but
you are making a feast," and went on to sing paella's praises. So, while
composing my own ingredients list, I decided to follow Gourmet's instructions
as a means to judge at least one of its recipes--and a complex one, at
I found the instructions for this dish to be descriptive and detailed.
For example, when boiling the rice on the stovetop prior to baking it in
the oven, it said to do so "until the rice appears on the surface about
6 minutes," and then added "spoon should leave a path exposing bottom of
pan when pulled through center of rice." I did exactly that: boiled
the rice at high heat for 6 minutes and, lo and behold, the spoon left
a nice wide trace on the bottom of my new paella pan. It called
for 5.5 cups of broth for 3 cups of short grain rice, which was right on.
However, I found the recommended baking time to be about 20% short. I also
prefer 2.5 cups of rice--more than enough--while using the same amount
So, we did this dish twice in two weeks and I think what follows is
about right. There is a lot of work required to put it together.
The trick is to sauté the main ingredients early on and set them
aside (or put them in the fridge if holding them for more than four hours).
With the squid, fish, chicken and sausage done, all that is required then
is to fire the onions, pour in the rice and stock, steam the mussels, fit
all the goodies in, and get it in the oven about 30 minutes before you
want to serve it. I confess that this is easier said than done.
I was late serving the paella the first time, though it had as much to
do with my having fun talking to guests and drinking wine as getting the
dish assembled and in the oven in a timely manner. But I got it right
the second time. (As the saying goes: He ain't smart, but he's very
observant and highly trainable).
See abbreviations, if necessary
monkfish or grouper, cut to serving size
raw medium shrimp, shelled
squid, cut crosswise for rings
chicken legs, skinned, foot knuckles removed (see notes)
garlic cloves, pureed
2.5 cups short
grain Spanish rice is best and traditional (or arborio risotto rice)
big pinch saffron
can of diced tomatoes, drained
white wine (for the mussels)
peas (frozen OK)
artichoke hearts (canned OK), halved, drained
red peppers, roasted, bite size, square cut
fresh parsley leaves (garnish)
1. In saucepan, add BG and stock, BTB and hold
2. In the paella pan or saute pan prepare in
fish , shrimp and squid
(do not over cook)
cut fish into bite sized
cubes and transfer all to a warm place or to fridge
3. In another pan or on the grill, season and sauté
or grill the chicken legs and chorizo, set aside
4. In paella pan, add 3T of EVOO and sweat
onion and garlic in EVOO
5. Add the rice and coat grains
6. Add a cup of stock, then saffron, paprika
and diced tomato
7 Add more stock to total about 7 cups
(remove BG satchel)
8. BTB, then reduce heat and cook rice for about
6 minutes until rice surfaces and spoon leaves trace
9. Hold point (pre-heat oven to 400F)
10. OO, in another pot, cook mussels in 2 ozs white
wine and 2 ozs stock, covered until they open--a few minutes
11. On low heat on the stove top: (allow 10 minutes
for this step)
stir in artichokes, peas,
peppers, squid and chorizo
nicely arrange and push
in shrimp, fish, chicken and mussels
add those platter juices
that taste good
taste again for seasoning
12. Bake uncovered at 400F for about 25 minutes
13. Remove from oven, check for rice doneness, add
stock if it's too dry, and it probably will be
14. Add parsley garnish
15. Serve from pan onto heated bowls
Notes: a. Chicken leg foot knuckles are
removed to save space in the pan (see photos). A game
shears works best.
Be sure to look for and remove all bone chip.
b. A paella pan is ideal, but a big skillet will work