Cooking for friends at home is a great way to make connections with our community too. Preparing food for people is an act of giving but is also fun. Traditional Spanish paella is a hearty, rice, fish and shellfish dish that also has some spicy, Spanish chorizo sausage in it. Paella can be made in large batches to feed a crowd and it is a fun dish to prepare as your guests arrive because even though it takes a little time to make it from start to finish, it is assembled in steps. Guests can help you make the dish or they can enjoy a drink and chat with you while the cooking is taking place. The combination of social interaction with great food truly makes “dinner social.”
Place an 18-inch paella pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add chorizo and render the sausage. Add the onions, garlic, saffron and turmeric and sweat until just softened. Add the rice, stir to coat and lightly toast the rice for about 3 minutes.
Add chicken stock and stir to combine. Cook for 15 minutes adding more water as necessary to keep the rice moist. Stir in the peas and add the striped bass and shrimp to the rice, making sure each piece is slightly buried in the rice. Cook the paella for another 4 to 5 minutes until the shrimp and fish start to turn opaque. Add the mussels and cockles with the hinge sides down, so they can easily open and place the peppers around the pan like spokes on a bicycle. Cover with foil and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or until the mussels and clams open.
Uncover and sprinkle with chopped parsley, paprika and serve immediately with lemon wedges.
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ pound chorizo, sliced ¼-inch thick
1 onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
½ tablespoon saffron
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 cups short grain rice
8 cups chicken stock
2 cups green peas
1 pound striped bass fillet, cut into 8 pieces
18 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pound mussels, rinsed and beards removed
2 dozen cockles, scrubbed
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and cut into ¼-inch julienne
¼ cup chopped parsley - paprika
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges