Dinner Tonight: Paella with Jose
It's what Spaniards call "soccarat." A layer of brown, crispy rice that clings to the bottom of a paella pan. Remnants so tasty that they are rarely left to linger after the dish has been devoured. Such was the case tonight after my family inhaled our take on this classic Spanish one-pot wonder. The nature of paella is practical and unpretentious, embracing a free-style cooking technique that allows room for ingredient creativity. Traditionally it features some combination of meat, fish and vegetables that are simmered with rice and saffron. Our version was inspired by renowned Spanish chef Jose Andres' Paella with Chicken, Mushrooms and Shrimp, a recipe built to satisfy a hungry crowd. I adopted a stovetop strategy, dividing the chicken, shrimp and 'shrooms (plus a few rogue spears of asparagus) between two skillets to cook with simmering rice and spices. The soccarat didn't stand a chance.
PAELLA WITH CHICKEN, SHRIMP, MUSHROOMS AND ASPARAGUS
[Adapted from Jose Andres]
9 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (preferably Spanish), divided
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
10 ounces fresh cremini mushrooms, stems removed, caps thickly sliced
1 1/2 cups asparagus spears, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup chopped red onion
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups paella rice (short-grain white rice)
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 1/2 tsp Ancho chili powder
3/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp saffron threads, crumbled
2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth, divided
1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined, butterflied
1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in each of 2 large (12- to 14-inch) paella pans or skillets over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add half of chicken to each pan; sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken from each pan to separate large bowl. To each pan, add 1 tablespoon oil and half of fresh mushrooms and asparagus. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until mushrooms are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer mushrooms and asparagus from each pan to 1 bowl with chicken. Add 1 tablespoon oil to each pan, then 1/2 cup onion and 2 garlic cloves; sauté 1 minute.
2. Add 1/2 tablespoon oil to each pan, then 3/4 cup rice. Stir 1 minute to coat. Add 1 1/4 cups mushroom broth, 1/2 can tomatoes with juice, 3/4 teaspoon ground chile, 3/8 teaspoon paprika, and 1/4 teaspoon saffron to each pan. Stir to blend; bring to simmer. Sprinkle rice mixture in each pan with salt and pepper.
3. Mix 1 bowl of chicken and mushrooms and all juices into rice in each pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer 10 minutes (do not cover during cooking). Drizzle 1/2 cup chicken broth over each. Simmer 8 minutes. Drizzle another 1/2 cup broth over each. Simmer 8 minutes longer.
4. Arrange half of shrimp atop each paella. Cook until rice is tender, chicken is cooked through, shrimp are just opaque in center, and rice is brown and sticking to pan on bottom, 2 to 3 minutes longer.