Our journey in Italy continues. We are having a fantastic time with my older brother and our son is beside himself spending time with his cousins and the extended family. Lunch under the terrace for twelve it’s an everyday affaire, a blessing, and we love every seconds of it.
In the mist of this big family group, there is also a chef, Riccardo. Him and I can spend hours talking food. He loves new flavors, blending spices and using new ingredients and he is always looking for a new way to create a new dish for the restaurant he owns, Dixie Duke in Alessandria.
Somehow we got to talk and Paella come up. Next thing I knew all the ingredients were on the kitchen counter in my brother kitchen and the preparation began.
Chopping, roasting, talking, steaming shellfish. The soccer game was on, it’s Italy after all, and Italy was playing. I can only let you imagine the vivid conversation that was taking place while we were in the kitchen and since my brother has an American style kitchen, I had no choice to partake in the game.
Dinner was enjoyed outside under the beautiful Italian sky. Plates being filled, glasses with wine were clinking and laughter could be heard from afar.
Enjoy this wonderful Paella Valenciana. The recipe is for twelve persons and not a kernel of rice was left behind.
2 pounds or 1 kg rice Arborio or Spanish rice
4 small envelopes of saffron (50 mg)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
¾ pound or 350 gr French strings beans
1 pound or 450 gr baby small peas
1 ½ pound or 700 gr or 1 large chicken breast, skinless and boneless
1 ½ pounds or 700 gr chorizo sausage – mix between hot and mild
¾ pound or 300 gr rabbit
4.5 pounds or 2 kilos mussels
2 pounds or 1 kg clams
10-12 large shrimps
400 gr prawns -scampi or langoustine
6 calamari, fresh, sliced into ½ inch disks, save the tentacles
10.5 cups (84 oz) 2.5 liters’ chicken broth
Preheat the oven to 400° and place the bell peppers in a cookie sheet and roast them for around 35-40 minutes or until the skin is roasted and comes off. When ready, peel the skin off under cold water, remove the inside seeds and cut the pieces into chunks.
Cut in small dices the chicken and rabbit – about 1 inch thick.
Remove the casing from the chorizo sausages and slice into small pieces.
Put clams in cold water and add salt to the water. This process will open them and will clean them. Shake them and toss all the broken pieces.
Remove the brown beard or strings from the mussels and toss all the broken pieces.
Blanch the green beans in salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and let it set in cold water with ice until ready to use to keep the green color.
De-shell the prawns and leave the tail intact.
Cut the back of the langoustine with scissors.
In a large skillet add olive oil, couple of tablespoons of water, mussels and steam them covered until the mussels are open. Around 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
In a large Paella pan, add olive oil, chorizo pieces, chicken and rabbit. Cook over medium high heat and break down the chorizo with the back of a spoon.
Add the peas and mix well.
Add the calamari, green beans and mix.
Add the rice by forming a cross and spread evenly around the pan by adding the chicken stock.
Meanwhile in the hot oven, at 400°, place the langoustines in a cookie sheet and cook in the hot oven for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Add the saffron to the rice until the rice is golden yellow. You may want to add more saffron if needed. Mix well and carefully to insure that the mixture will not go overboard.
Assemble the dish:
Open 1/3, or 20 pieces, of the mussels and split the half shell and keep the mussels in the other half shell.
Take the other shells, open them, remove the internal mussel and add it to the cooking juice. Add the juice and mussels to the rice pan.
Add he shrimps to the rice mixture.
Place the langoustines around the rice dish as well as the half open mussels.
Place in the warm oven for around 10 minutes or until the rice is dried out.