We introduced you to Paella HERE with a recipe using chicken legs, pimentón, piquillo peppers and asparagus. One of the beauties of paella is that there is no ONE way to make it. You can use a plethora of ingredients but the key is to remember that the other ingredients are supporting actors to the main character – RICE. Paella is ALL ABOUT THE RICE! Unlike Risotto, you don’t want the rice to be creamy. No no no! You want the rice to be CRUNCHY. So the key to making a great paella is DON’T STIR THE RICE!
With that introduction, we bring you this paella variation using Amontillado Sherry which works very, very nicely with the crunchy rice. The naturally nutty flavor of the sherry marries up well with the rice. To further the nutty flavor, we used toasted slivered blanched almonds and Crimini (also spelled “cremini”) mushrooms.
A more authentic touch would be to use toasted blanched marcona almonds. Marcona almonds are the variety most commonly found in Spain.
Among the many beautiful qualities of paella is that it only takes 2 pans to make it – a saucepan and the paella pan.
• 3 quart Saucepan
• 12″ diameter paella pan (Available HERE)
1 375 ml. bottle Amontillado sherry
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or chicken breasts)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
Spanish olive oil
1 cup Valencian rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 can quartered artichokes, drained (or use whole artichokes, cut in half)
12 asparagus spears, cut into 3″ pieces
Several hours ahead of time, put the chicken pieces into a 9″x 9″ baking dish, lightly salt the chicken and add 1/2 cup of sherry. Cover and place in the refrigerator. Let the chicken marinate in the sherry for several hours so that the flavor of the sherry infuses the chicken.
Pour a quantity of olive oil into the paella pan to a depth of about 1/8″, covering the entire bottom of the paella pan with the olive oil. Turn heat to low, add the garlic and onion. Cook until the onion turns translucent.
Drain the chicken juice into the saucepan. Add the chicken broth, turn the heat to low. Add the drained chicken to the paella pan, turn the heat up to medium and brown the chicken, turning frequently for even browning. Remove the chicken from the paella pan, but leave the olive oil, garlic and onion. Add the mushrooms to the paella pan.
Turn the heat under the broth to high, bring the broth to a boil. While the broth is heating, pour 1 cup Valencian rice into the paella pan. Stir the rice to coat it with the olive oil. Turn the heat to high. From this point DO NOT stir the rice!
Add the chicken back to the paella pan. Pour the heated broth into the paella pan. Cook for 9 minutes on high. Then turn the heat to medium-low. Add the artichoke hearts, almonds and asparagus. Taste the rice and, if necessary, add a bit more sherry to insure that the rice has a nice, nutty-sherry flavor. (Be careful not to add too much liquid – you don’t want to disturb the absorption of the liquid by the rice.) Cook for 9 minutes on medium-low. Remove the paella from the heat, cover with parchment paper and let it rest a few minutes before serving.