This was my first time cooking paella so I won’t try to pass myself off as a paella connoisseur. I haven’t even been to Spain! [one of these days…] I just wanted to share what I did to make a tasty dish because I know that for me, the idea of paella was intimidating and it shouldn’t be! It was pretty easy. Of course I am sure there will be some who say this isn’t a real paella recipe. It’s just “rice with things”. I get it. Some will say, no chorizo! or no beans! or no seafood!
According to Wikipedia, paella started in Valencia, Spain and the only ingredients allowed in a paella is as followed:
“Short-grain white rice, chicken, rabbit, snails, duck, butter beans, great northern beans, runner beans, artichoke, tomatoes, fresh rosemary, sweet paprika, saffron, garlic, salt, olive oil and water.”
For now, we’ll just call what I made a Paella.
Simple Seafood Paella
[influenced by Christine Watson via 500 Tapas]
1/4 cup of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
pinch of dried red pepper flakes
1 cup of Spanish rice*
1 tsp of paprika
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups of chicken stock, heated
salt and pepper
3 chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup of frozen peas
6-9 artichoke hearts
1 cup of assorted seafood**
Heat half of the olive oil in a heavy saucepan on medium and then add the garlic, onion and bell pepper. Cook until soft. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and rice. Stir until rice is coated and glossy. Mix in the paprika and wine. Cook until bubbling and then add the hot chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. While rice mixture starts to cook, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and brown the chicken in a separate pan. Once brown, add to the paella and stir one last time. After cooking for ten minutes, sprinkle the frozen peas across the top of your paella. Also arrange the artichoke hearts on the top. Making a design is a big part of paella. Continue to simmer for another ten minutes. While the paella is cooking, use the last tablespoon of olive oil to fry your seafood for 1-4 minutes and then add them to the paella. Serve with lemon slices immediately.
*I used Vigo Saffron Yellow rice. This is totally cheating. I didn’t want to buy saffron separately on the chance that I would never use it again. Now that I know paella is easy to make and that I can make it without a paella pan, I might buy some for future tries. For now saffron rice works well. From what I researched the important part is to not use a long grain or sticky rice.
**I used a bag called Melody Seafood. It’s not the best option but it was the most convenient. It had squid, shrimp, mussels, and clams in it. You could use any kind of seafood you like. You could even add more. Or don’t add seafood at all and just do more chicken. A lot of people will add the whole clam or mussel, shell and all to their paella. If you do this, you’ll want to add the clams or mussels when you add the frozen peas. I think it can make the dish look really pretty. Seriously, go google image search and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
In the end paella is all about what you like and what you have in your kitchen. Use asparagus instead of artichoke hearts or add chunks of lobster or make a vegetarian paella with yellow peppers, butternut squash, and mushrooms. You could even go crazy and add some chorizo! Just maybe don’t try to pass it off as paella to your Spanish friends.