Side-by-Side Chicken and Seafood Paella

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Serves Four to Six - This recipe works great with our Demi Paella Pan

For the sofrito:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, halved horizontally and grated on the largest holes of a box grater
  • 2 tomatoes, halved horizontally and grated on the largest holes of a box grater to get a coarse purée (discard the skin)
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • Kosher salt

For the Chicken side:

  • 3 cups chicken broth; more if necessary
  • Small pinch saffron threads
  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, cut into large pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut in 1-inch wide strips
  • Small handful green beans, trimmed
  • 1 cup medium grain Spanish rice
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges

For the Seafood side:

  • 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut in 1-inch wide strips
  • 3 cups seafood broth (make your own by simmering mussels, shrimp shells, and bottled clam juice)
  • Small pinch saffron threads
  • Kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 10 large shrimp, peeled
  • 1 cup medium grain Spanish rice
  • 14 mussels, scrubbed
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges

Make the Sofrito:

Set a 20 inch bi-sectional divided paella pan over one burner set on medium heat. Heat the oil in the pan and add the onion, sautéing gently until softened, about 5 min. Add the tomato, pimenton, and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until the mixture has darkened to a deep burgundy and is thick like a compote, at least 20 min. but longer is better. If it starts to stick to the pan or burn at any point, add a little water to the pan. When the sofrito is done, scoop it out and wipe out the pan. (You can make the sofrito ahead and keep refrigerated for a few days, or freeze for a few months.)

Prepare the broth, chicken and vegetables:

In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth just to a simmer. In another saucepan, bring the seafood broth to a simmer. Toast the two pinches of saffron threads very briefly in a dry skillet or toaster oven (just until aromatic, a minute or two is plenty; don't let it burn). Crumble the threads in a mortar or between your fingers, and add equal amounts to each broth. Taste and add salt if necessary (they should be very well-seasoned, salted as if it were a soup). Set aside to let the saffron steep.

Season the chicken pieces generously with salt and pepper. Pour 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil into each side of the divided paella pan pan set over one burner on medium high heat. Add the chicken and sauté until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes (it needn't be cooked through). Transfer to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium low. Add the orange pepper on one side and the red pepper on the other and cook until the peppers are completely limp but not brown, 15 to 20 min. Transfer the peppers to the plate with the chicken. Add the green beans and cook until they are soft and wrinkled, 8 to 10 min. Transfer the green beans to the plate with the chicken.

Cook both paellas simultaneously:

Heat up both the chicken and seafood broths. Set the paella pan over one or two burners (or over 4 closely spaced burners) to try and get as much heat under the pan as possible. Set the burners to medium heat and add equal quantity of the sofrito to each side of the pan, along with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add 1 cup rice to each side of the pan. Stir the rice into the sofrito and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and pour in 2 cups seafood broth to one side, and 2 cups chicken broth to the other side (if using bomba rice, start with 2 1/2 cups broth). Spread out the rice as evenly as you can while the broth comes to a boil. Experiment with your burners to find the set-up that allows for maximum heat distribution.

On the chicken broth side of the pan, arrange the chicken, orange peppers, and green beans in the pan. On the seafood broth side, arrange the red peppers. Do not stir the rice from this point on. Simmer vigorously, moving the pan over different burners as needed for even cooking, and when the rice appears at the same level as the liquid, after 8 to 10 min., reduce the heat to medium low so the broth simmers very gently. Arrange the mussels on the seafood side, nestling them into the rice.

Continue to simmer gently, rotating the pan as necessary, for 5 minutes more. Arrange the shrimp on the seafood side, and cook another 3 to minutes until the shrimp is pink, the mussels are open, and the rice is just al dente. (If the rice is not done but all the liquid has been absorbed, add a bit more broth or water to the pan and cook a few minutes more.)

Increase the heat to medium-high and, rotating the pan, cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, creating the socarrat. The rice will crackle, but if it starts to smell burned, remove the pan from the heat immediately.

Let the paella rest:

Remove the pan from the heat. Let the paella rest, covered, for 5 minutes to even the cooking and let the flavors meld. Arrange the lemon wedges around the perimeter of the pan and serve.