When I was a child I lived in Barcelona with my family. Often we went to the Costa Brava for the week ends…we’d arrive early in the morning and my father would order the paella and sangria for our late lunch. They cooked it on the beach, and when it was done we’d have a feast!
Occasionally we’d travel to Valencia (the home of modern day paella from the early 19th century) to visit my Aunt Molly and her family. She’d always cook us a paella over an open fire pit in the ground. I’m not sure if it was the large family gatherings or the paella itself, but I have loved paella every since.
Since becoming an adult paella has been my favorite meal to prepare for large family occasions and for special friends. Living here in Sonoma county where we eat and live outdoors so much of the time it’s become even easier! We now own a paella burner which makes it very easy to prepare this special dish in either our large or small paella pan. Less then an hour away is the great store called the Spanish Table which carries authentic Portuguese and Spanish ingredients, plus the wines and all accessories you would ever need to create this meal authentically.
There are as many variations for paella as there are for risotto. But my favorite is what I first tasted in Spain…a combo of seafood and meat. By the way…this pan and burner do work just as well for risotto dishes.
Below is the recipe I use the most…of course the most important ingredient in paella, as in any dish is love!
- 1/3 C. of Valencia or Bomba rice per person
- 1 C. Chicken Stock per person
- Saffron dissolved in 1C. of white wine
- Olive Oil
- 1 pc. of Chicken like a thigh or leg per person
- 1/2 Soft Chorizo such as Bilbao or Palacios per person
- 1/2 tspSpanish sweet pimenton per person
- 1/8 C. chopped tomatoe (I use Roma Tomatoes) per person
- 1 sweet onion
- 1 garlic clove per person
- 2 shrimp or prawn per person
- 2-4 Clams or Mussels per person
- Red Piquillo Peppers cut in strips
- Artichoke Hearts, corn or peas
- Cooked White Spanish Beans
- Lemon wedges to garnish
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- And of course the most important ingredient…cook it with LOVE
Heat stock in a separate stock pot. Crush saffron and add it to stock or a little bit of white wine. Heat paella pan over medium heat, add olive oil and fry chicken until it begins to brown. Take the chicken out and sauté onions, add garlic and sauté all together. Add chorizo and cook until heated. Add the rice, stirring until well coated with oil. Add the paprika and chopped tomatoes. Stir while cooking for a few minutes. Add saffron flavored wine and hot stock. Bring to a boil while scraping the bottom of the pan. Place the chicken back in the dish spread out evenly.
Now the rice should be level and there is no need to stir from now on. Adjust heat ot maintain a nice simmer. When the rice has absorbed a good amount of liquid but still has a soupy appearance add the mussels, clams, seafood part. Once the rice has cooked add the shrimp or prawns and tuck down in the rice, then the piquillo peppers, and vegetables.
During this time the rice shou,d be caramelizing on the bottom of the pan or creating what is called La Soccarat. It will make a faint crackling sound and smell toasty sweet but not burnt. Set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Spinkle with chopped parsley, garnish with lemon wedges and serve.
We entertained and served it this past week end on Father’s Day for family who traveled here from Munich & Hamburg, Germany; Carlsbad, CA; and from right around here in Sebastopol. Since we have a couple of family members who are gluten intolerant Whole Foods was kind enough to make a gluten free chorizo. Everyone was happy! Come and join us at our latest Paella event…There is great beauty in entertaining in a style that is personal to you and your family tradition.
If you have a favorite family recipe or story to share, I’d love to hear it! Leave me a message below, always looking for new and fun ideas!