Since I don’t drive, I’ve been forced to take some creative modes of transportation throughout my travels.
While living in
And train (especially thrilling when crowded and smelly in summer).
When we visited
While our main transportation during our backpacking adventure through
However, I do believe that one of the greatest joys an American can experience in our country is the Road Trip. The diversity in our country is never more apparent than when plowing through six states in one day. On our Dec 26th trip from
Here’s the best dose of American local-color I’ve ever seen, from a one-stop shop in upstate
Phil knew we were fast approaching the Florida state line when we began seeing signs for Shoney’s and Church’s Chicken (instead of the Denny’s and KFC I’m used to up north).
Once we finally reached our destination at his parents’ lovely house on the beach, we were happy to see that they didn’t plan on feeding us takeout from Church’s, or breakfast at Shoney’s at $2.99. Over the following days, we gorged ourselves on Laurie’s lasagna, turkey, standing rib roast, broccoli casserole, zucchini bread, etc etc etc. You’ll never go hungry when Laurie’s around! We celebrated Christmas with the ever growing fam…
… and I insisted Laurie take a rest and let me cook up my famous paella for the crowd.
Paella a la Sánchez
2 pounds chicken thighs
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Spanish chorizo sausages, thickly sliced
1 Spanish onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
1 (15-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed
4 cups short grain Spanish rice
¼ cup white wine
6 cups warm shellfish stock**
Generous pinch saffron threads
1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 dozen mussels
1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined
½ lb calamari, cleaned and cut into rings
1/2 cup frozen sweet peas
1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into ¼ inch strips
Salt and pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving
Mix paprika, vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl to make a thick paste. Rub paste on chicken thighs and let marinate for at least an hour.
Heat oil in a paella pan or wide, shallow skillet over medium-high heat on the largest burner of your stove. Saute the chorizo in the center of pan until browned, then remove and reserve on plate. Add chicken skin-side down and brown well on all sides. Remove chicken from pan and reserve on plate with the chorizo.
In the same pan, sauté the onions, red pepper, garlic, and parsley for 3 minutes on medium heat. Add tomatoes and cook until the mixture caramelizes a bit. Fold in the rice and coat with the vegetable mixture. Stir-fry 3 to 5 minutes, until the rice is shiny and a tiny chalky kernel is visible in the center of the grains. Add wine and cook until wine is nearly evaporated. Pour in warm shellfish stock and saffron and simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Add chicken and chorizo back to the pan and simmer another 10 minutes. Add the clams, mussels, calamari and shrimp, tucking them into the rice. Let the paella simmer, without stirring, until the rice is al dente, for about 15 minutes. If the seafood isn’t cooking quickly enough, cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil.
During the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the frozen peas. Remove from heat and let rest 5 minutes, then garnish with parsley and lemon wedges. Serve paella directly from the pan with crusty bread. Buen provecho!
**if you don’t have shellfish stock on hand in your freezer, try simmering your reserved shrimp shells in 6 cups chicken broth as you’re prepping the vegetables and seafood (about ½ hour should do it).