Unlike risotto, which is blah reheated, leftover paella tastes delicious. With all the effort and time required to make chicken and seafood paella - nearly four hours end-to-end - leftovers better be good.
While risotto requires constant stirring until cooked, 'NEVER STIR' is the cardinal rule when cooking paella. The lack of motion preserves the integrity and shape of the rice grain while it quietly and uniformly soaks up all the stock and meat juices.
Adapted from a Guy Fieri recipe, this chicken and seafood paella with Argentinian chorizo served as the centerpiece to our special New Year’s Eve date night, and several date nights after that (with this kind of food, every night can be date night).
Chicken and Seafood Paella with Argentinian Chorizo
4 tablespoons olive oil plus a drizzle for garnish
6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1 ham hock
2 cups onion, diced and divided into two, 1-cup portions
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
Pinch of paprika
1 teaspoon minced oregano
1 cup white wine
Seafood stock, about 2 cups
1 tablespoon saffron dissolved in 1 cup warm water for 3 minutes
1 pound Argentinian chorizo or other mildly spiced, fresh chorizo sausage (Guy Fieri calls for spicy Mexican chorizo but I prefer the mildly spiced Argentinian chorizo to avoid overpowering the subtle flavor of the seafood)
1 cup red bell peppers, diced
3 cups Arborio rice
1/2 pound scallops
1/2 pound shrimp
1/2 cup scallions, diced, for garnish
1 lemon, cut in wedges for garnish
In a large stock pot over high heat add half the olive oil. Add the chicken thighs and ham hocks and brown on both sides. Remove chicken to a plate, leaving the ham hocks in the pot. Store the browned chicken in the fridge until you’re ready to use the meat. Add half of the onions and the celery, carrots, and garlic to the pot, and cook for 5 to 7 minutes.
Deglaze the mix with white wine and reduce the liquid by half. Next add the seafood stock, saffron, and 2 quarts of water and let simmer for two hours or until reduced by half. When the stock is reduced, straining the liquid through a chinois, pressing the liquid out of the vegetables with a spatula. Return the liquid to the pot, and simmer on low heat.
Remove the chicken thighs from the fridge and place them in the stock for 8 – 10 minutes to cook through.
Meanwhile, in a large Dutch oven or paella pan add the remaining olive oil, chorizo, red bell pepper, and onion, and cook until the onions are translucent, but not brown. Add rice, paprika, oregano, and a generous amount of salt and pepper. Simmer until all rice grains are coated with oil. Smooth the rice with the back of a soup ladle so it is level around the pan and, using the ladle, scoop about 1 cup of broth at a time into the rice. Do not stir.
When rice is 3/4 of the way from being fully cooked (about 15 - 20 minutes), add the chicken thighs, shrimp, scallops, and mussels.
Bury the seafood in the rice so they cook through. Add a final cup of broth and cover the pan tightly. Let sit off heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until seafood is cooked. Garnish with scallions, lemon wedges, and a drizzle of olive oil. When storing for leftovers, keep the mussels but remove the shells.