Happy New Year and Happy 2018! Yes, I've been gone for a while, but I'm back now. Lol. Going to zip past all the excuses and dive right into this recipe.
I vacationed in Puerto Rico last year, had an amazing Paella and I was lucky to have the chef give me a few tips. I looked up a few Spanish Paella recipes, trying to spot the difference really, and ended up with some kind of fusion of both that my family and I enjoyed.
Here's what you will need:
5 Cups Rice
Sausage - Andouille or Chorizo work best
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
2 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Large Can Roasted Peeled & Chopped Tomatoes
1 Cup Green Peas
1 Tablespoon Turmeric or a Pinch of Saffron (2 or 3 strands, saffron is EXPENSIVE)
1/3 Cup Onions and 1/3 Cup Celery Chopped
2 Tablespoons Sofrito (Optional)
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
2 Seasoning Cubes
Salt & Pepper
Pour 1/4 Cup vegetable oil in your large skillet or pot and brown your chopped sausage. I used some Jalapeno stuffed sausage that I already had in-house.
After it has browned, take it out and brown your chopped chicken breast in the same skillet. I had pre-seasoned my chicken with salt, pepper and a pinch of garlic.
Set your chicken aside. Time to soften your chopped onions and celery with some garlic. Continue to stir until aromatic and it starts to look translucent. Please do not leave it unattended, it'll burn and burnt onions and garlic, especially, is nasty!
I know some people find red onions a bit too intense, feel free to use yellow onions, this is just a personal preference.
Add tomatoes... I roasted and peeled my tomatoes myself, but you can certainly buy the canned version.
If you choose to roast yours, set your oven to broil and put your tomatoes on a low rack. Keep your eyes on it so that it doesn't burn. 2 - 3 minutes should be sufficient. You want a bit of the char flavor, not necessarily the color. If some parts get burnt, just peel the skin off and cut that bit off.
If you don't want the char flavor, just add chopped tomatoes, you won't be missing anything.
Next, pour in your remaining vegetable oil, chicken stock and wine. Home-made stock will always trump store bought stock and will most likely contain less sodium.
Add rice. I was gifted some Saffron rice, so why not use it? You do not have to go looking for Saffron rice, just add turmeric or saffron to your regular parboiled rice for the same color/effect.
I added an additional teaspoon of turmeric for a good color boost. (My turmeric has dried onions in it, that's what those strands are).
Cover the skillet and allow to cook on low to medium heat until almost all of the cooking liquid has been absorbed.
If most of your cooking liquid has been absorbed but your rice is still hard, add some stock or water, about a quarter cup at a time. Remember, you can always add but you cannot remove. Add too much and you'll be left with a skillet of mush.
So, my Puerto Rican chef swears by Sofrito and said that it brings his food to life! Per his instruction, add it within the last 10 minutes of your cooking time. Mix properly and season with 2 seasoning cubes, salt and pepper, to your taste. Yes, the Sofrito did give it a flavor boost, but nothing you would miss, if you decided not to add it.
Reintroduce your sausage and chicken to the party and add calamari... Mix gently with a fork, in a fluffing motion. I mixed at this point for proper distribution, also because by the time you add the remaining seafood, you will not be able to do it properly.
Lay shrimps and mussels on top of the rice, dot the spaces with baby scallops, sprinkle a little bit of salt over it and splash of lemon juice (about 2 tablespoons). Cover the skillet again to cook for another 5 - 7 minutes on low to medium heat. You will know that your mussels are cooked when the shells are all open.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and enjoy!