Last spring, we visited Passalacqua Winery in Sonoma for a "barrel tasting" event and the kind folks over there served visitors paella. One of our friends asked for the recipe, and Dave and I were inspired to cook this at home.
First, you'll need one of these. The following is the original recipe, but the great thing about paella is that you really can't mess it up. Just make sure you cook things long enough and everything will turn out delicious. Try it a few times and you'll learn what works and what doesn't.
1 cup olive oil
2-3 heads of garlic, with cloves detached but not skinned
6 red peppers or piquillo peppers, cored, seeded and sliced
5-6 pounds of chicken, preferably legs and thighs with bone in
4 yellow onions, chopped
2 16-ounce cans diced tomatoes
6-7½ cups chicken stock, homemade or canned
20-25 threads of saffron, crushed
2-2½ teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika
4-5 cups uncooked Valencian short-grain rice
2 16-ounce cans garbanzo beans
1 pound green beans, slender asparagus or baby artichoke hearts
20-24 jumbo shrimp (16/20 count)
20-24 Manila clams and/or New Zealand Green Lip mussels
4-5 lemons, cut into wedges, for garnish
Heat the paella pan over medium-high heat, add olive oil and garlic and fry the peppers. (Add more peppers if you want to serve some as an appetizer.) Remove peppers and set aside.
Add chicken parts to the pan, turning to sear all sides. When chicken is golden, add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the tomatoes and the stock and reduce the sofrito base down for about a half hour. Meanwhile, crush the saffron with the smoked paprika in a mortar and pestle and add it to the stock.
After a half hour, stir in the rice and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Important: Do not stir or cover the rice. As the rice cooks, add the vegetables and the garbanzo beans.
During the final 10 minutes, poke the shrimp and shellfish into the rice mixture so that they will cook.
You will know when the dish is done when you can smell the smoky odor of the rice carmelizing on the bottom of the pan, and all the liquid is absorbed by the rice. Finish with squirts of lemon and leave lemon wedges in the paella pan or perched along the rim.