We cooked this amazing dish in a 36" paella pan over a wood fire grill, feeding approx 40 people...it was quite an event. The dish is quite easy to make and the prep time is pretty minimal. The cooking becomes the featured event of the evening, and its best to prepare all your ingredients prior, so you can focus on entertaining and talking while cooking this very social dish.
For this recipe, I am pairing down the ingredients to feed 10, and the pan size can be reduced to a large 12"+ frying pan (preferably stainless steel). Paella pans are available online, and we purchased ours from www.latienda.com
1/2 cup olive oil
2 lbs boneless chicken thighs - Cut into 2" pieces
1 lb Spanish Chorizo sausage, sliced on a bias into 1/2" pieces
4 young leeks, cleaned and trimmed, thinly sliced
2 Tbs Pimenton
4 cups Valencia rice (alternates: Calasparra or Bomba rice)
5 qts of hot seafood or chicken stock (simmer on stove before adding to dish)
Sea salt to taste
5 lobster tails, split
2 lbs of extra large shrimp
2 cups of fresh peas, or 1 can
1 bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley
3 lemons, quartered
We chose to serve it with grilled corn. Remove the threads, leave the husks on while grilling, then pull back for a natural handle while eating!
Paella is traditionally cooked on an open fire. You can use a gas grill, a Weber type grill with wood or charcoal, a fire pit using cinder blocks and wood, or even your stove top burner. If you are using wood fire, make sure you get the fire going early and prepare a nice bed of coals that will last at least an hour. When starting, rake coals to edge to provide an even distribution of heat.
Set Paella pan over the heating source, and add oil and heat thoroughly. Add chicken thighs and quickly brown outside edges crispy. (3 -5 min)
Add the Chorizo sausage, leeks, and pimenton and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp brown also. (3-5 min)
Add rice and cook for approx 2-3 min, stirring often to coat rice with oil.
Add heated stock to pan and stir evenly to coat everything and start to absorb the liquid.
Crush a pinch of saffron threads between fingers and spread evenly across dish
Add sea salt to taste
Stir generously, as this will be pretty much the end of your stirring.
Add lobster tails and arrange evenly over rice, cut side up to cook slowly. Nestle tails into rice to cook evenly
Add shrimp a couple minutes later and push down into rice with spoon to cook evenly
Continue cooking paella, rotating pan if necessary, but not stirring.. stock will simmer and begin absorbing into rice
Make sure your heat source is not too hot. You want the stock to steam and simmer, not boil
Cook until the rice is almost tender and the lobster is cooked through, approx 30 minutes. Turn tails over to steam, if they are not cooking through.
Scatter peas on top of paella and add more liquid if rice is not tender
Continue cooking paella until a thin crispy golden crust develops on bottom edge of the cooked rice, approx 5 more minutes
Make sure rice is tender by taste and seafood is cooked through
Remove pan from the fire, cover with a large dish towel, and let sit for 5 minutes.
Garnish pan w/ chopped flat leaf parsley to taste and edge the pan with lemon quarters.
Plate, and enjoy with a nice glass of 2009 Syrah. One very happy diner, below. Cheers!