Recipe: Shellfish and Chicken Paella

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Paella is arguably the national dish of Spain, and the best ones, it is said, come from Valencia in the south. Gloria and I had our best paella there in an unassuming little restaurant where the lady owner was the chef.

I have made paella with all varieties of rice, although conventionally it is made with Spanish short-grain. Italian Arborio rice, French rice from Camargue, and Asian or American rice work as well.

Although true paella is made in a shallow tin pan on an open fire and can include rabbit as well as snails or eel, I make mine with chorizo sausage and chicken thighs, adding shellfish at the last moment. I also cover the pan, which is not the traditional procedure, because this helps the mixture cook more evenly. The chicken, chorizo, mushrooms, onion, and garlic can be browned a couple of hours ahead.

I like to use commercial alcaparrado, a mixture of olives, red pimientos, and capers that my wife uses in her Caribbean cooking, and hot salsa, both of which are available in markets.

4 servings

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the chorizo and chicken and brown over high to medium heat for 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic, and cook for 1 minute. (The recipe can be prepared to this point a couple of hours ahead.)

About 30 minutes before serving time, reheat the mixture until it sizzles. Add the rice to the pan and mix well. Stir in the alcaparrado, tomatoes, saffron, hot salsa, chicken stock, and salt. Mix well and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook for about 12 minutes.

Add the mussels, scallops, and shrimp to the pan, placing them on top of the rice without stirring them in. Cover, increase the heat to medium, and cook for an additional 8 minutes. Add the peas, cover, and cook for 3 minutes longer. Stir well and divide among four warm plates.

Serve.

Episode 201: Viva España!

Jacques' world travels influence his cooking, and with this menu we'll savor the essence of Spain. Bold and Spicy Gazpacho kicks off the meal followed by Shellfish and Chicken Paella. A quick detour to pick up some Caribbean flavors makes the last dish of Pineapple in Dark Rum Sauce worth a trip to the kitchen.

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Minute Recipe: Butter Bean Canapés

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I love beans and the big butter beans (habas grandes) available in cans at the supermarket are well suited for these canapés. The bean mixture also makes a great first-course salad or meat accompaniment. If made up to 3 hours ahead, the bread will, for the better, soak up the juices from the beans.

Mix together in a bowl 1 can (15.5 ounces) drained butter beans (large white beans), 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 3 tablespoons chopped onion, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or chives, 1 teaspoon chopped garlic, 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cut twelve 1/3-inch-thick slices from a baguette. Mound the bean mixture on the bread slices. Serve.

Makes about 3 dozen