It’s the pandemic, when you see family or a close friend worth being in your bubble, you gotta do it big. Step up your game with some classy wine country approved dining with some classy wines. Most people romanticize this dish and think of it as a fine dining, I think of it as a fancy fried rice with fish elements.
I’ll go over how I prep ahead of time to make day of cooking easier, why it’s the perfect meal when hosting, and lastly throw a recipe and directions at you.
Perfect Hosting Meal
When you host anyone during COVID, you want to have something easy, delicious, and plentiful. Paella checks those boxes. You can cook it as fast or slow as needed and you can make it as fancy or fishy as you want. The underlying order of cooking is meat, veggies, broth, rice.
Get all the prep out of the way ahead of time so that you can partake in the opening and enjoying of the wine. Defrost any meat, get the right amount of each that you are going to use, I partition them separately and get a marinade going. Chop up any veggies and separate. Even chop up the lemons ahead of time. Separate the longer cooking veggies from the ones you put on top for decoration.
- Chicken thighs – bone in, skin on, couple lbs.
- Onion – full and chopped.
- White fish- Alaskan cod, full package – 2lbs.
- Shrimp – Argentinian, no tails.
- Paella Rice – fanciest you can find, minimum half cup a person.
- Canned tomatoes.
- Sausage – Spanish chorizo is ideal, we did Linguica and it’s still delicious.
- Chicken stock – full quart.
- 12 pack of beer – some for you, some in case rice gets too dry.
- Veggies: Artichoke hearts, peas, bell pepper.
- Lemons: at least two, cut up into slices for optimal placing.
- Garlic – we used already chopped.
- Olive oil.
- Aluminum foil.
- Spanish white wine to pair – Albarino?
We prepped ahead of time so everything was already defrosted, marinated, and chopped. So it turned into keeping the temperature constant and cooking each ingredient optimally.
- Turn on the paella pan – bigger the better. Coat with Olive Oil.
- Add in marinated chicken thighs, skin down first. Brown.
- Add in chopped onion – full big onion, and chopped sausage.
- Mix this a good amount, flip chicken.
- Add in a good amount of garlic, and canned tomatoes. This will create a Sofrito on the fly, and will start smelling like Paella right off the bat.
- Get your chicken stock heating up separately in a pot, add saffron generously. This primes the saffron and infuses the stock better.
- Add in dry rice – 1/2 cup a person, or more. This part sounds weird, but you want the rice to cook and turn clear in the oil to absorb the flavors. You can turn this into a ceremony like the Spanish do, each person adds in a half cup themselves. We added a full bag.
- Mix in the chicken stock, make sure there is enough to almost cover the rice.
- Let that cook up for a while and then start adding in seafood and veggies.
- White fish gets added first, I place the cut pieces in, then push them down so that they cook all the way. Cover with foil to steam the rice, or in this instance close the BBQ.
- Now it’s time to party and add in the shrimp, veggies and lemon. Pro tip: add in the peas, then add each ingredient in circles so that you look authentic. Layer the shrimp, artichoke hearts, bell peppers, and finally lemon.
- We want the shrimp and bell pepper to cook a little more, so we covered again after this.
- Try to not mix during the last few steps, you want a bit of crust at the bottom. Ours started to dry up a bit, so two beers were added to keep moist.
- By this time everyone is starving, take some pictures, and get ready to serve!