Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Paella

I've had this huge craving for paella (pronounced "Pie-yay-uh") for weeks, and it was getting worse every time I saw someone cook it on Food Network or when I would order it at a tapas place.  I love the stuff - the seafood, the color, the texture - but I think it can be healthier.  Genuine paella is made with rice, veggies, chorizo and seafood, but rice doesn't have enough fiber for me, and I'm sure it's loaded with fat and oil to keep it so smooth.
So I took it upon myself to make my own, substituting fiber-full couscous for rice and putting in tons of veggies.  Since I didn't have a wide enough pan (or burner) I decided to make it in a 6-quart pot, and this stuff overflowed!  I got about 10 huge servings out of this.  I've been eating it all week, and I'm a little sick of it; if it freezes well, I can enjoy it the next time I get a craving.
Hearty veggies, fiber, seafood?  Who could ask for more?
I'm Making Paella
Makes 10 large (two-ladle) servings
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium yellow onion, diced
3 Large garlic cloves
1-2 Cups baby white or red potatoes, quartered
1 Each - Red, Green & Orange bell pepper, diced
2 Links Chicken Sausage - Chorizo Flavored (I like Amy's), cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half-circles.
3 Tbsp Tomato Paste
1 Pinch Saffron (I found a little package - Vigo brand - for $3.69 at my grocery store.)
1 Can (10-14 oz) diced tomatoes with green chilies
1 Quart Chicken Broth/Stock
1-1.5 lbs of raw, peeled & deveined shrimp
1 lb Bay Scallops (These are the tiny ones.  I got them frozen.  You can get big fresh sea scallops, but I think they're too big for me.)
7 oz Crab Claw Meat - optional (This is the "cheapest" meat of the crab.  I found a tub of pre-cooked stuff for $7, and it's awesome.  I make crab salad out of it.  DON'T USE FAKE CRAB LEGS YUCK.)
Mussels - optional (I found frozen mussels in butter sauce - in the shell and everything.  I just microwaved them, removed the meat and added it to the mix.  If you can't find them, don't use them, unless you're brave.)
Salmon or other sturdy fish - optional (Cut them into 1-inch chunks and add them to the simmer.  If you want; I didn't.)
2-3 cups Whole Wheat Couscous
1 cup frozen baby peas
Hot Sauce (Louisiana or Frank's = my favorites)
In a large pot, heat olive oil until it ripples.  Saute onions until they are translucent.  Add chicken chorizo sausage & garlic; cook until sausage is warmed through.  Stir in peppers and potatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook until peppers are translucent but still crisp.  Stir in tomato paste and saffron; let heat through.  Add canned tomatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste; cook until warmed through.  Stir in chicken broth and simmer until potatoes are fork-tender.  Gently stir in shrimp, scallops and fish (optional), and simmer gently until the seafood is opaque.  
Stir in 2 cups of couscous, cover pot, and remove from heat for 5 minutes.  After five minutes, the couscous should be fully cooked.  If there is still a lot of liquid and the couscous is mushy, add more couscous to soak up that extra liquid; cover to steam the couscous for 5 more minutes. 
Return the pot to the burner and gently stir in crab meat, mussels, and frozen peas, being careful not to break up the fish chunks (if you added fish).  Taste for seasoning; add salt, pepper and hot sauce as desired.
Serve with a light dusting of parmesan and fresh chopped cilantro. 
It's a lot of work - prepping the veggies, tending the pot, etc. - but it probably took me an hour in total.  It helps to play some Motown music and drink a glass of wine in the meantime.  That helps for anything.
So there's that,


Melissa said...

Yum! When am I coming over for some of this Paella! Sounds outstanding.

manda said... helps with anything?? Did mom or Laura write this? ouch!! Just kidding; we all know mom's drink of choice is not wine (unless its merlot)