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Cuban Paella recipe

courtesy of the Cocina Cubana Club founded by Pascual Perez & chef Sonia Martinez

-The secret to my paella is I use beer instead of water or stock to cook my rice. It gives it a nice tangy taste.

-Sometimes I follow the long, elaborate instructions and make everything from scratch. Sometimes I use the already pre-packaged yellow rice mixes, but I always use the beer in cooking.

-I don't follow a recipe usually, so here is what I do:

Take a few threads of saffron and crush them in a small glass bowl in the juice of one lemon. The acid in the lemons seems to bring out the color and taste of the saffron. Let is steep for a little bit.

Make a sofrito:

Sautee chopped onions, minced garlic, chopped cherry tomatoes and bay leaf in olive oil, until onion is translucent. Add a touch of oregano and a pinch of cumin.

Add the rice and sautee for a few minutes, not long enough to brown, but just until it takes on a slight nutty color.

Brown the chicken pieces (I prefer to use boned chicken already cut up, but some people will use whole pieces, bone in)

Sautee scallops and shrimp, just to turn opaque, but not cooked through.

Add the chicken to the rice, add the saffron-lemon mix and the beer and cook at 350oF in the oven, covered. When it is almost done, add the shellfish and mussells in their shells. Also add the petit pois (sweet English peas) and decorate with strips of red pimientos. Finish cooking.

Some people like to add pork, fish and or/ham to their paellas. I prefer the chicken and shellfish combination. Sometimes I will add prawns or lobster.

The paella should be slightly soupy, but not watery (if that makes sense).

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