Paella is a dish that is extremely versatile. The foundation of paella is short-grained spanish rice cooked in frangrant broth and sofrito -- a traditional Spanish tomato sauce which rounds the flavour of the stock and provides sweetness and depth to the rice. Once the rice has absorbed about 1/2 the liquid in the pan, you can add your chosen toppings -- choose from your favorite veggies, fish, seafood, and/or chicken.
The key flavors which give Paella its distinctive taste are saffron (which flavors your broth), and Spanish paprika, which adds a delicious smokiness to the proceedings.
One of the pleasures of a paella is called socarrat -- this is the crusty crispy bottom of the paella that becomes caramelized and toasted on the bottom of the pan when it is cooking.
This paella foundation is perfect for any number of variations: try prawns and scallops, or tins of conserva, or asparagus and green beans, or chicken with strips of grilled pepper, whatever you are in the mood for! Surf and turf works well here too as pork and seafood often mingle in Iberian cooking -- so when I have some chorizo handy I love to add a few slices to my onions to add more smoky/paprika flavor.
Try cooking your paella over an open fire or on your BBQ to bring out the smokey flavors even more! This is a perfect summer recipe, so we are very excited to be offering the key ingredients in our June Pantry Discovery Box.
Paella with chicken, snap peas, cherry toms, chicken and some Jose Gourmet Calamari...
Paella Your Way
Paella basics. Make it your own.
Heat a generous amount of olive oil in your widest saute pan -- or a paella pan -- then add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat, stirring, until softened and just beginning to brown, 8 minutes. If you have a few slices of chorizo (the cured variety), you can add this to your onions for more flavor. Add your paprika about 1/2 way through cooking the onions.
Heat your broth with the saffron threads infusing it
Add the rice to the onions, stirring for a couple minutes til the rice becomes transparent.
Stir in the tomatoes and saffron-infused broth. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
Simmer over low heat, without stirring, until the rice is al dente and the liquid is absorbed, 15 minutes.
While the rice is cooking, you can pre-cook your toppings (grill your fish, chicken, or veggies until not quite cooked through).
We love to use some strips of bell pepper as a paella topping. We either broil or grill them whole, until nicely charred, then rub off the skin, remove the seeds, and slice into strips.
Now add your toppings to your paella pan: lay them in a pretty design over the top of the rice. There should be some liquid in the pan still, which will help complete the cook on your toppings.
After about 12 more minutes try your rice. If it is pretty much cooked, now is the time to crank up the heat for about 2 minutes to create the beautiful "Soccarat" or crispy rice crust on the bottom of the pan. Just watch it so it doesn't burn.
Serve the paella after letting it sit for about 5 minutes, with a simple green salad and your favorite vinaigrette.