Paella became a favorite dish of mine when I lived in Marbella Spain. The incredible seafood of the Mediterranean teamed with their distinctive spices gives this dish its signature appeal. Saffron is one of the key ingredients and is well worth the added expense. You only need a little to imbue its magic qualities to your dishes bringing the delights of one of Spain’s most treasured flavors to your own table. This delicious dish is said to have originated in Valencia and the original Valencian paella was a mixture of meat, snails, green veggies, and beans. There are several version of Paella depending on where you are in Spain. I am more accustomed to the one with mainly seafood served along to Andalucían coast. Seafood Paella is very popular as a meal served on Friday’s in observance of Lent, but I love it anytime! The more modern Paellas use chicken instead of rabbit and seafood instead of snails, but if you are keen on trying the snail version I am sure they are still making it somewhere in Spain. A large pan is essential and they make one especially for making paella called a Paellera that you can find in many restaurant supply stores and specialty kitchen shops. They say that this dish got it name from the Spanish and French word for pan. Many thought that it came from the Aribic word for leftovers, but apparently that’s not the case. A Paellera is a round flat pan with two handles that is usually put right on the table and served from. One of the main things that paella have in common is their distinctive bright yellow colored usually short grained rice. This is caused by using generous amounts of saffron. This is a dish that makes good use of what is on hand in each region taking advantage of what’s local, fresh, and available. The trick to making a delicious and successful paella is all about layering the flavors. I often start with dried chorizo sausage that I remove from the casing and crumble as it cook, unless I am doing a seafood only version. The fat and juices along with the garlic and paprika add a wonderful depth of flavor. The next step is to add the meat, usually chicken and brown that off. Then comes the onions and a bit of garlic and other veggies like bell peppers and peas. Of course there’s stock and rice to be added and one of the last things I add is the fish and shell fish. No matter which ingredients you choose to use in your own paella I am sure you, too will come to love this flavorful Spanish dish. It’s great for feeing a crowd and even more delicious the next day as the flavors continues to blend together. I hope you enjoy my recipe and have fun celebrating National Spanish Paella Day! This is a delicious and easy version of paella that you can make at home to share with your friends and family. You can add bell peppers and other kinds of seafood if you like. Hope you all enjoy National Spanish Paella Day and make this recipe your own by adding your favorite veggie, meats, and seafood.
- ¼ Teaspoon saffron threads
- 1 Tablespoon boiling water
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 Chicken thighs (boned, fat trimmed off, and cut in 1 inch pieces)
- 2 Chorizo sausages (casing removed)
- 1 Large onion (thinly sliced)
- 3 Cloves garlic (crushed)
- 2 Teaspoons paprika
- 4 Medium tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
- 1 ½ Cups short grain rice (or brown rice, it’s healthier, but less authentic)
- 4 Cups chicken or veggie stock
- 10 to 12 Large raw shrimp (deveined with tails on)
- ½ Pound halibut or other firm whitefish (cut in 1 inch cubes)
- 1 cup frozen peas (fresh are great too when in season)
- Boil the water and pour over the saffron in a heatproof container and set aside for 5 minutes. Heat oil in a large frying pan or paella pan on medium high heat and add chicken. Cook for 5 minutes stirring often. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside. In the same pan add chorizo, onions, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes stirring often until the onion has softened. Add the saffron mixture and paprika and cook while stirring for 1 minute. Add the tomato and cook for 5 minutes stirring often.
- Add the rice and stir to coat. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and return the chicken to the pan. Simmer the paella uncovered for 20 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed. Top the rice mixture with the shrimp, halibut, and peas and cover for 10 minutes or until the rice is tender and the seafood is just cooked through. Serve immediately and enjoy!
Visit Chef Kate’s website www.chefkatealiveandcooking.com and the Kora Organics Blog www.koraorganics.com (under Chef Kate) for more healthy organic recipes and articles.