Paella on the PCT

Dear fellow foodies:
Happy New Year!!  Now that the holidays are over and the hectic pace is behind us, it is time to slow down and savor our time with our family and friends.
 I just recently got back from a snowshoeing trip on the Pacific Coast Trail and I was the chef for the weekend.  An easy and delicious way to feed a crowd (up to 16 people) is Paella.  Paella can be vegetarian or with different types of meats and seafood.  What you have on hand, or what you like is what you should use. This dish was originally a peasant dish and depending on the wealth of the family depended on what was put into the Paella.   The only things that are not to be substituted in Paella is the rice and saffron.    This dish is started on top of the stove and then finished in the oven.  If you have a paella pan you will get a better crust on the bottom of the paella (called socarrat).  This is the “crunchewey” part most prized by paella lovers all over the world.  The other great thing about this dish is you cook it in one pan and then serve from the same dish.  Came in really handy since we all were in a rented cabin with a kitchen that wasn’t stocked with everything.

A Note About Bomba Rice:  Of the two types of classic short grain rice grown in Calasparra, Bomba is the supreme strain.

Until recently, many feared that the strain would become extinct. Bomba had all but disappeared from the land because it requires intensive care in order to flourish. Fortunately, alert gourmet chefs created a demand, so that today Bomba is once again available for the pleasure of discriminating food lovers.

The basic difference between Bomba rice and others is that Bomba expands in width like an accordion rather than longitudinally, as do other rice strains. It differs from Italian Arborio rice, which is bred to be creamy, and Asian rice, which is meant to be sticky. Bomba absorbs three times its volume in broth (rather than the normal two), yet the grains remain distinct.

Paella
(serves 12-16)
1 bag Bomba Rice

1 Yellow onion – medium dice
3 cloves garlic – sliced
1 Quart Stock or use Demi-Glace added to water
1 Jar  Divina Roasted Yellow Peppers drained and cut into large pieces
1 jar drained artichokes (cut into quarters if large)
1/2 teaspoon Saffron Threads
4 Sausages – cut
6 chicken thighs – cut into large pieces
2 pounds of large Shrimp
1 Can San Marzano Tomatoes – drained
Olive Oil

Smoked Olive Oil

to garnish
Parsley – chopped as garnish

You want to use the largest, widest pan you have available for this dish.  If you don’t have a very large pan, use two. Pre-heat your oven to 400F.

  1. Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat and cook the sausage and chicken until cooked through.  Remove from the pan and reserve.
  2. Add more oil if necessary and cook the onion and garlic until soft (about 5 minutes)
  3. In another pot heat the stock and add the saffron to the stock.  This will be added into the pan after the rice has been added.
  4. Add the yellow peppers and warm through.
  5. Add the artichokes and warm through.
  6. Add the rice and mix until it is coated with the oil and the onions, garlic and peppers are evenly distributed.
  7. Add the can of  San Marzano Tomatoes and mix, cutting the tomatoes into large chunks.
  8. Pour in the stock until the rice is just covered.  Mix well.
  9. Cook on Medium/high heat for approximately 5 minutes.
  10. Add the meat back to the rice.  Pressing into the rice as evenly as possibly.  Cook 6 more minutes.
  11. Add more stock if needed.  Place the shrimp on top of the rice evenly and place into the oven to finish cooking. At this point you do not want to stir the rice any longer.
  12. Bake in a 400F oven for another 20-30 minutes checking every 10 minutes to be sure there is some stock and the rice finishes cooking.  The last 10 minutes you want the rice to absorb all the remaining liquid and create a crust (socarrat) on the bottom of the pan.
  13. Serve Hot right from the pan with a fruity light red wine.  Drizzle with Smoked Olive Oil and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Happy Winter Everyone!

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