Lightly toast a pinch of saffron in a dry pan, then add ½ cup hot chicken stock and steep 15 minutes. Heat the remainder of the stock in medium saucepan. After 15 minutes, add the saffron stock to the rest. Taste the stock and adjust seasonings. It should be well seasoned so add salt if needed. Remove from heat and set aside until ready to add to rice.
Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the sliced chorizo and cook until just browned and the fat has been released. Remove the chorizo to a plate but leave the oil you’ve rendered. There should be enough fat for the next step, but if it looks a little dry, add in up to a tablespoon olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and make the sofrito by sautéing the onions and garlic until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the mixture darkened to a deep red and is thick, 15-20 minutes. If it starts to stick to the pan, add a little water. (You can make everything up to this point several hours ahead and set aside.)
About 30-40 minutes before you are ready to eat, bring the broth back to a simmer and set the sauté or paella pan with the sofrito over your largest burner on medium high heat. Add the rice, stirring until it’s opaque, 1-2 minutes. Pour in 3 1/2 cups of the broth (reserve the rest) and stir or shake the pan to evenly distribute the rice. Do not stir the rice from this point on. Simmer vigorously, occasionally moving the pan to distribute the heat as evenly as possibly. When the rice is at the same level as the liquid, (about 8-10 minutes), turn the heat down to medium low. Sprinkle in the peas, edamame and lemon zest. Nestle in the artichoke hearts and, if using, asparagus around the pan. Continue to simmer gently, rotating the pan as necessary until the liquid has been absorbed, about another 10-15 minutes. Taste a grain just below the top layer of rice; it should be al dente. If the rice is not done but all the liquid is absorbed, add a little more of the reserved stock or water and cook a few more minutes. I’ve found at covering the pan with foil helps move this along.
When the rice is tender, it’s time to create the socarrat (crust on the bottom, and a key factor of paella). Increase the heat to medium-high cook for 2-3 minutes, until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, creating the socarrat. Rotate the pan over the heat so all parts can get a crust. The rice will crackle, but if it starts to smell burned, remove from heat immediately.
Turn off the heat and let the paella rest, covered in foil, for about 5 minutes. Serve with right out of the pan with wedges of lemon. Calories: about 320(for 6) to 475 (for 4) per serving.
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