Memories from Espana: Paella

One of the daily staples that I devoured while travelling through Spain in 2003 was Paella.

Paella is an intoxicating Saffron rice dish usually served with seafood and meats like chicken and sausage.  In Barcelona, my buddy and I were treated by our over-the-top hospitable friends to homemade and authentic Paella which has always made this dish a special memory.  They then took us out to a bunch of bars where a bunch of cross-dressing trannies performed a walk-off.  I try to forget “that” memory!

PaellaBarcelona FriendsParc Guell by Antonio Gaudi

As with any rice dish, there are risks of burning, too much moisture, too dry, and a number of other issues that I’ve personally encountered.  There’s quite the art in cooking Paella, even special pans coincidentally called “Paella” as well.  True Spaniards also swear by cooking Paella over hot coals outdoors.

I tried a new recipe this week stolen from one of my favourite shows, Chuck’s Day Off, and it was probably the best my rice has ever turned out.  Here’s a twist on the recipe:

Ingredients (serves 4)
– 2 cups Arborio rice
– 4 cups chicken stock
– 8 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
– 3 chorizo sausages – sliced into edible rings
– Your choice of seafood (prawns, mussels, squid work great)
– 1 cup frozen green peas
– 1 red pepper
– 1 yellow onion
– 3 cloves garlic
– Healthy pinch of saffron
– 2 tsp of paprika

Steps:
1. Clean your chicken, dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper
2. Heat vegetable oil in a large non-stick pan at med-high (8 out of 10 is a good number)
3. When oil is hot (but not smoking), brown chicken on both sides (adjust heat up or down to not burn)
4. While the chicken is browning, in a separate pot, add the saffron to the stock and bring the stock to a boil
5. Once browned, remove chicken and set aside
6. Add the chorizo and brown them for 3 minutes
7. Then add the onions for a couple minutes while they become translucent
8. Add garlic, paprika and saute for a couple minutes
9. Add the rice and toast it for a couple minutes – the rice will take on the colour and flavour of the pan
10. Add the boiling stock to the pan, stirring to mix the ingredients
11. Place the browned chicken back into the pan, pushing them into the rice
12. Turn down the heat to low (about a 2) and cover with foil for 30 minutes
13. After the 30 minutes, add the seafood to the top of the rice.
14. Cover with foil for another 10 minutes to cook the seafood
15. Add the red peppers and frozen peas just before serving
16. Garnish with a lemon and some parsley

Grab a glass of Rioja, eat Paella and dream of Barcelona!

ps. Oh yeah, my personal pet peeve: the double l’s in Paella are pronounced like a “y”, not an “l”.

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