Bomba rice grains double in size, not only in length but in width. They are also harder than any other rice variety in the world, which means they can absorb more liquid, and thus flavor, as compared to other rice varieties. Bomba rice maintains it’s consistent texture even under extended cooking so it will never become sticky, fluffy, or mushy. Even though it absorbs more liquid than ordinary rice varieties, the grains remain separate and individually loose from one another. This makes it perfect for paellas!
There are as many ways to make Paella as there are people. The few common themes are of course Bomba Rice and Saffron. I present one recipe here with some basic tips that I think should be used for all variations of Paella.
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon Spanish Grade A-I Saffron threads
- 1/2 teaspoon La Chinata Paprika
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 2 tablespoons Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 12 raw medium shrimp in their shells (1-1.5 pounds)
- 12-18 mussels, shells scrubbed (just quickly use your fingers under running, cool water)
- 12 clams, shells scrubbed (just quickly use your fingers under running, cool water)
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes (bite sized)
- 4-6 ounces Spanish Chorizo cut into 1/4 inch slices
- 1.5 cups Bomba Rice
- 2-4 Organic Piquillo Peppers coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh (or defrosted) peas; you can substitute an equivalent amount of green beans
- Fleur de Sel or Maldon Salt
- 2 lemons, quartered
- 15" seasoned Paella Pan
- fire (any grill that will hold the entire pan)
First, and this is KEY, prepare the saffron by crushing it with a mortar/pestle. (see Saffron Tips) In a medium saucepan bring saffron, wine, and paprika to an almost boil. Remove from heat. Let it rest for several hours, even a full day to get all the saffron flavor.
Get your fire going to medium-high heat. Get your broth warm, but not boiling, on the stove. Warm the saffron/wine/paprika mixture in a separate pot. Put your paella pan on the fire and once it is hot, add the olive oil. Do NOT let the oil start to smoke. Add shrimp, generously sprinkle with salt and sautee until shells start to turn pink and shrimp is ALMOST cooked through ("par-cooking"). Overcooking is BAD. Take shrimp out of pan and set aside on a clean plate. Peel the shrimp once cool.
Now add the chicken thighs to the pan and sautee for 5-10 minutes so it is cooked through. Stirring frequently. Add the chorizo and sautee for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently. You want the chorizo oil/flavors to season the chicken and the pan itself (so the rice can soak up some of the flavors).
Add all the rice. The rice should NOT be above the rivets of the handles of the pan. Stir the rice to get all the grains coated with the pan juices/oils. Add some more salt and sautee, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes.
Add the WARM wine/saffron/paprika mixture. This will let the rice soak up that great saffron/paprika/wine flavor. Gently stir for 3-5 minutes. Add 1/2 the WARM broth. Stir everything well once and then get all the ingredients as evenly distributed around the pan as possible. STOP STIRRING! Adjust the heat so you maintain a medium boil. Cook about 10 minutes. Taste the rice. Monitor closely and keep taste testing every few minutes.
When rice is 1/2 done, add the clams. The mixture in the pan should be able to hold the clams without them falling over, if they are falling over cook a bit longer so more broth evaporates and the rice provides a good enough base to set the shellfish in. Be sure to put them HINGE SIDE DOWN so when they open you can look down into them. (I find the rice keeps them from fully opening if I set them HINGE side up.) After 10 minutes add the mussels, HINGE SIDE DOWN. (mussels are smaller than clams, so need less cooking time) Continue to add small amounts of WARM broth to keep some liquid present until the rice is completely cooked (I have never found this to be necessary but it all depends on how vigorous your boil is and the amount of evaporation you experience). NO STIRRING as you want the rice to form a nice crispy layer on the bottom of the pan. This is called the Socarrat and is considered the best part of the paella.
Gently take a fork or spoon and peek through the rice to the bottom of the pan. When most of the liquid is absorbed and the rice is almost done (al dente by taste), take the shrimp and add them back into the paella pan along with the Piquillo Peppers. Throw in the peas or green beans at this time as well. Let cook a few more minutes until the shrimp is warmed through. The entire cooking time once the saffron/wine/paprika mixture is added is about 35 minutes. Remember the rice should be "al dente" and will cook a little more in the pan once the heat is removed.
If any of the clams or mussels did not open, throw them away.
Pull Paella pan off the fire, put in the middle of a table, give everyone a plate, fork and lemon wedge. Everyone serves themselves from the pan.
You can vary the meats, and vary the vegetables to find the combination you like. Have fun with artichokes, rabbit, pork, escargots........ pork and escargots is another favorite, ignore all the shellfish above, substitute the pork for the chicken in the cooking order, and then add the escargots when the recipe above says re-add the shrimp.
Certified origin (Denominacion de Origen a.k.a. "D.O.") from the L’Albufera nature preserve in Valencia, Spain.
1.1 pound (500 gram; approximately 6.2 cups) bag