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Paella
Originating in Spain's Valencia region, paella is a dish of saffron-infused rice cooked with various meats, seafood and vegetables. It is traditionally made with a Spanish short-grain rice; the best comes from Calasparra and is called Bomba. The dish is prepared and served in a large, round, shallow pan.

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 large artichokes
  • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1 tsp. saffron threads
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 6 chicken thighs, boned
  • 1/3 lb. pork loin
  • 1/2 lb. pork sausages
  • 7 oz. cleaned squid
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch
     pieces
  • 1 lb. ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely
     chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups risotto-type short-grain rice, such as
      Bomba
  • 1 cup shelled English peas, fresh or frozen
  • 6 oz. monkfish or hake fillet
  • 24 large mussels
  • 12 medium shrimp, peeled
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Directions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, bring the stock to a gentle simmer and maintain over low heat.

To prepare the artichokes, fill a bowl with water and stir in the lemon juice. Working with 1 artichoke at a time, remove the tough outer leaves. Slice off the top 2 inches of the remaining leaves. Cut off the stem flush with the base and discard. Cut the artichoke lengthwise into quarters, then scrape out and discard the fuzzy choke with a spoon or a small, sharp knife. Place the cleaned artichoke quarters in the lemon water. Repeat with the remaining artichokes.

Using a mortar and pestle, grind the salt with the saffron until a powder forms. Add the garlic and grind with the salt and saffron. Set aside.

Cut the chicken thighs, pork loin and sausages into 1-inch pieces. Slice the squid into rings, leaving the tentacles whole.

Place a 16-inch paella pan or a large, wide, heavy-bottomed fry pan over high heat (or over a metal ring set on a rack over coals) and pour in the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, pork, sausages and squid and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat and squid to a plate and set aside. Reserve the pan with the remaining oil.

Drain the artichokes and add to the paella pan. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Return the meat and squid to the pan and add the tomatoes, stirring to evenly distribute the tomatoes. Add 2 ladlefuls of the hot stock and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir a little stock into the mortar with the saffron mixture and mix well. Pour the contents of the mortar into the saucepan of stock.

Add the rice to the paella pan, followed by the peas and all but 1⁄2 cup of the remaining stock. Stir everything together thoroughly.

Cut the monkfish into 1-inch pieces. Scrub the mussels with a stiff brush. Debeard them by scraping off the tuft of fibers with a knife. Remove them from their shells if desired. Arrange the fish, mussels and shrimp on top of the rice mixture, discarding any mussels that do not close to the touch. Return the paella to a simmer and cook until the meat and fish are cooked through and the rice is tender but not too soft, about 20 minutes. If the mussels are in their shells, discard any that failed to open. If the paella is not yet done and all the liquid is absorbed, add a little of the reserved stock as needed.

Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a clean, dry kitchen towel. Let stand for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to mingle thoroughly and the rice to absorb any remaining juices. Serve warm, not hot, garnished with the parsley.
Serves 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, Barcelona, by Paul Richardson (Oxmoor House, 2004).