Oceania Cruise Lines Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly, is the Master Chef in charge of Oceania’s Culinary Centers which offer passengers hands-on cooking classes. Oceania Cruise Lines offers Culinary Discovery Tours where passengers can enjoy exceptional foodie experiences. For example, a Culinary Discovery Tour of Valencia, Spain where Paella was created. Here is Chef Kelly’s Perfect Paella recipe that she has perfected over the last 20 years.
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional as needed
8 ounces chorizo, diced
1 small onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 small tomatoes, finely diced
1/3 cup white wine
3 piquillo peppers, diced
1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika
4 saffron threads, soaked in 3 tablespoons water
1 small red bell pepper, diced
1 boneless chicken breast, skin on, halved width-wise
2 boneless chicken thighs, skin on
1 lobster tail, halved lengthwise
1/2 cup (80 grams) Bomba, Calasparra, or Arborio rice
8 shrimp, shelled and deveined
3/4 cup fish stock or clam juice
2 bay leaves
10 green beans, blanched and cut in 2-inch pieces
Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch paella pan over medium heat. Be sure to coat the entire pan with oil. Add the chorizo and sauté until the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. To ensure the chorizo stays tender, be sure not to overcook. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chorizo to a bowl and set aside.
Add the onion to the paella pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, just until the aromas are released. Add the tomatoes and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, until reduced to a syrupy consistency. Transfer the entire mixture to a bowl and add the piquillo* peppers to complete the sofrito*. Add the smoked paprika to the saffron water, pour the water over the sofrito, and stir to incorporate.
Increase the heat on the paella pan to medium-high. Add the bell pepper and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Transfer the bell pepper to the sofrito bowl.
Add the chicken breast and thighs to the paella pan, skin side down, adding more olive oil if needed. Sauté the chicken for about 10 minutes, or until half-cooked. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add the lobster tail to the paella pan and sear for about 3 minutes, just to coat the lobster with flavor. Transfer to the bowl with the chicken.
To assemble the paella, return the sofrito to the paella pan. Nestle the chorizo, chicken, and lobster into the sofrito. Add the rice and then arrange the scallops, shrimp, and mussels on top of the rice.
Add only enough stock to barely cover the rice. Add the bay leaves. Bring the mixture to a medium boil and continue boiling for 1 minute.
Decrease the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 15 to 17 minutes. Do not stir. When the rice has absorbed the liquid, remove the lid and discard the bay leaves. Discard any mussels that have not opened. Toss the green beans on top of the paella.
Increase the heat to high and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes so that the rice caramelizes on the bottom of the pan and forms the socarrat*. Watch carefully to ensure it does not burn, but do not stir. Stirring will prevent the treasured socarrat from forming.
*piquillo – a sweet pepper of a variety grown in Spain, often sold roasted and preserved in oil.
*sofrito – sauce of tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and herbs.
* socarrat – crust that forms on the bottom of the pan when cooking paella.