Paella is considered picnic food a one-dish meal prepared over a fire at an outdoor party like our hamburger cookout. It is also cooked indoors, but always in a flat steel paellera or in an earthenware cazuela. The main rules are to cook the rice uncovered and not to stir once the simmering has begun.
It comes in many variations, but sometimes the simplest paellas can be the most satisfying. Consider this weeks recipe as a sort of primer for an easy home-cooked stovetop and oven version.
The ingredients are relatively few: onion, chorizo, garlic, shrimp and fava beans, plus a little saffron and smoky pimenton, the spicy Spanish paprika. If you cant get fresh fava beans (or dont want to deal with peeling them), you can substitute peas or even frozen baby limas. To achieve a truly authentic taste, try to find imported chorizo and Bomba rice. As for the shrimp, choose spanking fresh wild, preferably medium size. I recommend peeling and deveining the shrimp, then using the shrimp shells to make the cooking broth. You could also leave the shrimp unpeeled and use chicken broth instead.
Most paella cooks I know agree that its important to take great care with the initial cooking of the aromatic base known as sofrito, which often contains tomato and peppers. For this recipe, though, it means stewing an onion and chorizo mixture very slowly in olive oil to concentrate the flavor. Once the rice goes into the pan and the liquid is added, an easy technique to employ is the 10-10-10. Thats 10 minutes over a high flame, then 10 minutes over a medium flame (or in the oven) and 10 minutes resting, lightly covered with a clean towel. The paella neednt be served piping hot, just warm.
The usual condiment is a good dab of allioli, a thick garlicky sauce similar to the French aioli. Though nowadays most people make it like mayonnaise, using egg yolks, real purists insist on an emulsion of nothing but garlic, salt and olive oil, pounded in a mortar. That takes practice and a little luck. Or a Spanish grandmother.
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Paella with Shrimp and Fava Beans