Most countries have a signature meal or food that is relatively inexpensive to make. In Spain, paella is that dish. Although, there is a legend on how paella was started. There is the story of the servants who created their rice dish from leftovers, but the real story is that it was created in the 19th century in the region of Albufera, which is close to Valencia.
Legend has it that field workers would make the rice from everything and anything over an open fire. Paella is not an easy dish to make. My first ten paellas were so bad that I had a dog die after eating our leftovers. Not to worry, years later I finally got the recipe down and my dogs are now safe.
There are hundreds of types of paella depending on what you put in it. There are meat-based paellas, as well as seafood, vegetarian and regional based paellas. I will focus on a paella mixture that contains both seafood and meat ingredients.
2.5 cups of Spanish rice (banda)
7 cups chicken broth
8 oz. fresh peas
Red peppers cut into ½ in thick strips
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium tomatoes, cubed
1 small onion, diced
19 oz. box frozen artichoke hearts
1 lb. chicken wings
4 oz. Spanish chorizo cut into coin sizes
10 large shrimps, do not peel or de-vein
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. sweet paprika
¼ tbsp. spicy paprika
½ tsp. crushed saffron threads
3 dried bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Put saffron and 1⁄4 cup hot water in a small bowl; let sit for 15 minutes.
Season chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper.
Heat oil in a 16″–18″ paella pan over medium-high heat.
Add chicken, shrimps and chorizo, and cook turning occasionally until browned for about 5 minutes. Transfer shrimps to a plate, leaving meats in pan.
Add paprika, garlic, bay leaves, tomatoes and onions to pan, and cook stirring often until onions soften for about 6 minutes.
Add reserved saffron mixture and broth, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.
Sprinkle in rice, distribute evenly with a spoon, and add artichokes, peas and peppers. Cook without stirring until rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 10–12 minutes. (If your pan is larger than the burner, rotate it every two minutes so different parts are over the heat and the rice cooks evenly).
Reduce heat to low, add reserved shrimps, and nestle in mussels hinge side down. Cook without stirring, until mussels open and rice absorbs the liquid and is al dente, 5–10 minutes more.
Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
- You know the rice is done when the white spot in the middle of the grain is gone.
- When the paella is done, turn off the heat and cover paella with a towel before serving.
- Use sticky paella. The rice will stick at the bottom and leave you that awesome almost burnt rice.
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