Paella for a Crowd
Total Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: Approximately 45 minutes
Total Time: Approximately 1-1/2 hours
Paella is one of those dishes that is very versatile and there are many variations. You can add pieces of white fish such as Mahi Mahi, little neck clams, or lobster if you choose. This is the recipe we used to make Christmas dinner this year and it was a big hit. The key to making the paella is to prepare all the ingredients first and separate into individual bowls. It’s definitely time consuming to make the paella. However, you can prepare the whole dish and put it in the oven ready to serve. It’s a great dish for a party. This particular recipe calls for the rice to be made separately from the seafood and other protein. At the end everything is combined. If you happen to have a very large paella pan and paella burner that uses propane, then you can make this all in the same pan. If not, cook the rice separately on the stove as I did and use wide, flat bottom pans to cook the seafood, chicken and chorizo.
2 red bell peppers, finely minced by hand
2 green bell peppers, finely minced by hand
1 large Vidalia onion, finely minced by hand
1 bunch cilantro, finely minced by hand
1 bunch green onions, green part only, finely minced by hand
2 heads garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely
4-5 pounds chicken tenderloins, cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
1 (9 ounce) pack Cantipallo chorizo, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices and then each slice quartered
6 plum tomatoes, diced
8 cups dry medium-grain rice, such as Arborio or Valencia
1-1/2 cups dry white wine
1 (8-ounce) jar chicken base
5 (32-ounce) boxes chicken stock or broth
1 (1.41-ounce) box Sazon con Azafron
½ gram Saffron threads (this is usually sold in a small packet in the spice aisle – see note below)
1 (0.5 ounce) can Bijol (See note below)
2 Bay leaves
1 (14-1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
5 pounds extra large shrimp (11-15 count) peeled, with tails on
2 pounds sea scallops
2 pounds mussels
1(16-ounce) bag frozen green peas
4 lemons, cut into wedges
Cook’s Note: Bijol is a powdered coloring and seasoning condiment that is used in dishes such as paella and arroz con pollo. It gives the rice a deep yellow color. It is also known as “achiote” or annatto powder and is often used to replace saffron. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. I like to use both in my paella for the coloring and the taste. Bijol can be found in the spice section of most large grocery stores.
Cook’s Note: Sazon con Azafron can be found in the ethnic food aisle of most large grocery stores. It’s sold in boxes of individual packets.
Essential Utensils: large wooden spoon, a large caldera (aluminum pot commonly used to cook rice in) or a large Dutch oven, 2 large paella pans (12-inch) or two 14-inch sauté pans, 2 full-size deep-dish aluminum pans, a medium saucepan, long tongs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Prepare the ingredients:
1. Place the garlic in a food processor with the 3 Tablespoons olive oil. Process for 30 seconds. Divide into four equal size portions.
2. Put 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a large caldera (a large aluminum pot). Swirl the oil to coat the bottom of the caldera. Turn the heat on high. When the oil is hot add the yellow onion and cook until softened, but not brown, stirring occasionally.
3. Add one portion of the garlic. Stir. Cook for one minute.
4. Add rice. Mix and fry the rice for one minute.
5. Add wine, 2 Tablespoons chicken base, 2 boxes broth, a pinch of saffron, 1-1/2 teaspoons Bijol, and 2 packs Sazon. Stir. The liquid should completely cover the rice. Stir and let it cook for 5 minutes.
6. Turn heat to medium-high. Add 1 box of broth, bay leaves, 2 Tablespoons chicken base, 2 packs Sazon, and 1 teaspoon Bijol. Stir to combine.
7. When it reaches a boil turn heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for 15 minutes and then remove cover.
8. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, pour 1 box broth, one portion of garlic, the remaining saffron, 1 pack Sazon. ½ teaspoon Bijol, 1 Tablespoon chicken base, and canned tomatoes. Stir and let it cook for 5 minutes, and then turn off heat.
9. Divide the rice and transfer to the aluminum pans.
10. Divide the red peppers and add to the rice.
11. Divide the green peppers and add to the rice.
12. Divide the cilantro and add to the rice.
13. Put the two paella pans or sauté pans on two large burners. Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil to each. Turn heat to high.
14. Divide the chicken and add to each pan. Add 1 pack Sazon to each pan. Sear chicken on both sides, using tongs to turn.
15. Divide shrimp and add to each pan.
16. Divide scallops and add to each pan.
17. Stir and cook the shellfish for 2-3 minutes. Add one portion of garlic to each pan.
18. Divide the chorizo and add to each pan.
19. Divide the peas and add to each pan.
20. Divide the tomatoes and add to each pan. Stir to combine everything.
21. Add the seafood mixture in one pan to one pan of rice. Add the other seafood mixture to the other rice. Mix well.
22. Add 2 large ladles of the hot broth to each pan of paella. Stir to combine.
23. Divide the mussels. Push mussels into rice with the edge of the mussel that is going to open is face up.
24. Cover paella with aluminum foil and place in oven for 20 minutes.
25. Transfer to a large serving platter. Garnish with lemon wedges and green onions. Serve hot.