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Author Notes: My first experience making paella was in college. My boyfriend loved shrimp and I was determined to make a shrimp paella recipe that I had clipped from one of his issues of GQ. Long story short, I had never used chipotle before and imagine that I put much more than the recipe called for, because the resulting paella was SO spicy, we could barely eat it (and we both love spicy food). We resorted to transferring the entire dish to the refrigerator and eating the paella cold so that we only had to deal with one kind of heat. It was still REALLY spicy, but also so delicious, we could not even fathom pitching it. I have made it a number of times since, although with a more restrained hand regarding the chipotle. Upon finding out this week’s theme, I immediately dug up that clipped recipe. I used it as a launching point, although realizing that I have never experienced authentic paella, decided to give this version my own twist. I started thinking about shrimp and all the things that might pair well with it in paella. My initial list included fennel, black olives, and chorizo. Fennel made me think of the fennel-orange combination, and although definitely not traditional in paella, the orange is no stranger to Spanish cuisine. Not just any orange, but a supremed, or segmented orange (all sweetness and juice and no pith or membrane) – I was inspired by a photo and decided to add it to the top of my paella along with the prawns. I am so glad I did. The sweetness of the orange is a lovely complement to the salty olives, briny shrimp and warm spice from the chorizo and pimento. I did not even miss the chipotle and will be making this again soon! Notes: Although the ingredient list looks long, once you start cooking everything comes together quickly. Be sure to have all of your ingredients prepped and ready before you begin. I used a 12-inch skillet because that is the largest that I have; as you can see from the photo this dish could definitely work in a larger skillet. —gingerroot
Serves 4 very generously - 6
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 pounds wild prawns, deveined, shells reserved
- 6 ounces fresh chorizo, casing removed
- 1 small onion, grated
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/3 cup fennel bulb, diced (tough core removed)
- 1 small orange bell pepper, diced
- 2 small ripe beefsteak tomatoes, grated, skin discarded
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ½ t Spanish smoked paprika (Pimentón)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped Italian parsley stems
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro stems
- 1/4 cup vermouth
- 12 oil cured black olives, pitted, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups Bomba rice
- 4 1/2 cups prawn stock (see recipe below)
- 1 large orange, supremed (see instructions below)
- Sea salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- Italian parsley leaves for garnish
- Cilantro leaves for garnish
- Season shelled prawns with a generous pinch of sea salt and grind of black pepper.
- In a large 12 inch flat skillet with lid (or paella pan), heat olive oil over medium heat. Add chorizo and crumble while stirring and cooking, about a minute. Add seasoned prawns and cook, stirring, for a minute. You just want them to get a little color. Promptly remove prawns to avoid overcooking later. Set aside on a plate.
- Add grated onion and garlic to chorizo. Cook until fragrant, stirring to combine.
- Add fennel, diced pepper, tomatoes, smoked paprika, bay leaves, cilantro stems, parsley stems, olives and vermouth. Cook, occasionally stirring, until liquid has reduced a bit, about 10 minutes, this is your sofrito, or flavor base. Taste for salt and add as necessary.
- Add rice and gently combine. Add nearly all of the stock (I had about ½ cup left in my saucepan) bring to a simmer, resist the urge to stir, and cover. Cook for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, check the rice by taste. If it is nearly cooked and there is a lot of liquid left, you might want to crank up the heat after adding the prawns. If it is still uncooked and there is not much liquid left, add the reserved stock as necessary. Place prawns and orange segments on top of rice. Cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes. As with any paella, this is the tricky part, getting the meat and rice to finish at the same time. I cranked up the heat during the last minute or two in pursuit of the crusty brown bottom layer. Remove pan from heat and let covered paella rest for a few minutes, being careful not to overcook the prawns. Remove cover, garnish with Italian parsley and cilantro leaves and serve paella from pan. Enjoy!
For prawn stock
- Shells from 1 ¼ lb of wild prawns
- 1 small onion, sliced into wedges
- 1/2 cup rough chopped celery
- 1/2 cup rough chopped carrot
- 1 large garlic clove, smashed with the flat side of a large knife
- 1 cup rough chopped fennel tops/fronds
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 20 threads saffron
- Combine everything except the saffron in a medium saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Strain stock through a sieve into a large bowl or measuring cup, pressing down on solids with a wooden spoon to get out as much liquid as possible.
- Return stock to original saucepan and keep warm.
- Crush saffron threads using a mortar and pestle. Add a ladleful of hot stock to mortar and swirl pestle around to release any saffron that might be stuck to the bottom.
- Add warm stock-saffron mixture to remaining stock, stir, and keep warm until needed for paella.
- HOW TO SUPREME AN ORANGE: Using a sharp knife cut off the ends of the orange (stem end, opposite end). Position the orange in front of you so it is sitting on one of the now flat ends. Slice the peel off from the top down, following the curve of the fruit. This is to remove all the pith. Rotate and repeat around the entire fruit. Flip the orange over and remove remaining pith using the same technique. Now turn the fruit on its side, so that the core is facing you. Cut between the membranes to achieve juicy segments that are pith and membrane free. Place segments in a bowl and set aside until ready to use.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Paella