Paella is a worldwide known rice dish from Spain. It originated from Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain. Today paella is made in every region of Spain, using just about any kind of ingredient that goes well with rice. There are as many versions of paella as there are chefs. Two key elements here: the rice and the saffron. Paella rice is a short grain rice with exceptional absorption properties; 1 cup/200g of rice to 3 cups/800g of stock. According to some purists, they claim that the traditional paella does not contain chorizo – Though, many paella recipes from Spain contain smoked paprika and pork which are chorizo's main ingredients.
Thaw shrimp overnight in the refrigerator if frozen or defrost them under running water. Peel off thawed shrimp starting with the head end pulling off the outer shell. For decorative purpose, leave the last segment of the shell and the tail tip on. Cut along the outer edge of the shrimp’s back and remove the vein; discard. Save all shells for stock. Keep shrimp on ice and refrigerate until ready to use. Meanwhile, separate each chicken leg from the drumstick. Rotate the joint so that it pops out, and then cut the thigh away from the drumstick by cutting straight down through the remaining cartilage. Cut off knuckles and reserve for the paella stock. Debone thighs if desired and reserve bones for the stock as well. In one gallon of cold water, stir in 1/3 cup/60g salt and 1/4 cup/30g cornmeal. Immerse clams and mussels and let soak 50 minutes to purge sand. Remove from water. Remove beard from mussels and scrub clams; rinse and keep refrigerated. Soak calamari and tentacles in cold water and clean. Pat dry and cut tubes into 1/4''/4mm rings; keep refrigerated until ready to use.
*Onion piqué: prick onion with a couple of cloves and bay leaves. In a large pot, put all ingredients together. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4 hours; skim off impurities as it cooks. Pass hot stock through cheesecloth. Discard solids. Let cool and refrigerate overnight; covered. Scrape out fat left on the surface of the stock. Measure what’s needed for the recipe and freeze leftover for later use or reduce stock to the quantity needed. An hour or more before cooking the paella, bring stock to a boil and throw in saffron threads.
Clean bell peppers, remove membranes and seeds, and cut into squares. Save trimmings for your next salad. Using your charcoal barbecue or over the stove – cook paella on medium high. Use a large carbon steel skillet or carbon steel paella pan. Heat up pan, add olive oil and sprinkle some salt. Sear chicken in both sides (skin side down first) until golden brown; about 5 minutes per side. Remove meat and set aside. Right after, cook the diced chorizo with minced garlic for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant; stirring every so often. Throw in chopped onions and bell peppers. Cook for 5 minutes and transfer mixture in a separate bowl. Sauté calamari squids with a drizzle of olive oil for a few minutes and remove from the pan. Bring paella stock to a boil. Bring bell pepper mixture back into the hot pan. Add rice, stir and pour in hot stock and add turmeric if desired. Season with salt, black ground pepper and cayenne to taste. Soak in the seared chicken with its juice, add chorizo slices and stop stirring, or it will activate starch turning your rice gloppy; this not a risotto!. Cover the dish with the lid and cook for 10 minutes. If cooking paella over a charcoal barbecue make sure that the smoke communicates with the food. Remove lid and arrange (without stirring), calamari and tentacles, piquillo, lemon confit* (Look it up), clams, shrimp, mussels. Cover with foil and cook for 10 min more, or until the bottom of the paella begins to caramelize.
*Garnish paella with some blanched greens such as English peas, broccolini, haricot vert.. Add lemon wedges – Bon appétit!