Paella

Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika.  Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella!

Paella has been on my list of recipes to try forever and a day. What has held me back is the fact that paella is one of the most controversial recipes I have come across. Try googling “Paella recipe”  or do a search on YouTube and read the comments. You will find people crossing swords over what qualifies as a paella and what doesn’t. The quest for an authentic paella recipe seems like one with no end in sight. However, when this moth’s challenge was announced I was determined to give this a try and did my best to search for an authentic recipe, a few major points that you need to keep in mind to get a good result

 Paella rice:

Rice is a tricky ingredient .You need a short-grain variety – not long-grain,  that absorbs liquid easily.  Spanish bomba is the best choice,Italian risotto or Japanese sushi rice are also suitable.

Paella Pan:

Ideally Paella is cooked in a  paella pan (but you can use any wide pan with a thin base) . The idea is to allow the liquid to cook off quickly and evenly. Ideally that pan would be set over a wood fire, to give the dish a delicious whiff of smoke, but a gas ring will do.

To stir or not to stir:

You can stir paella up to the point of adding the rice. After that, stirring is absolutely forbidden,because you’re aiming for a tender, but not creamy result. Besides, the brown, crisp layer that forms on the bottom of a well-cooked paella, the socarrat, is a highly prized delicacy.

The recipe I am making today is some what adapted from this one, I did leave out a couple of the beans I could not find and I added roasted red pepper to add a hint of smoky flavor to the dish.

The finished paella really reminded me of Kabseh (the middle eastern spiced rice dish)because there are some of the same flavor players here but the herbs and the lemon juice added at the end are what set the paella apart. I am happy to report that we all enjoyed it and the kids even had the left overs the next day. Thank you Inma for a wonderful challenge and for finally getting to cross paella off my list.

Paella

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 chicken breasts (I would have prefered mixed breasts and thighs but that is what I had on hand)

3 cloves garlic peeled

1 tomato, finely chopped

1 cup frozen green peas

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon paprika

1 red pepper roasted and sliced into strips

1 pinch saffron threads

1 -2 teaspoons dried oregano (the addition of herbs is optional and the amount is up to your taste)

1-2 teaspoons  dried rosemary (optional)

6 cups water (you may need more or less depending on the type of rice you use)

2 cups parboiled rice

Directions

Heat a paella pan over medium-high heat, and coat with olive oil.

Add the chicken, cook until nicely browned then move the chicken to  the sides of the pan.

Add the tomato,peas, and pepper strips, paprika and mix well.

Add the water to the pan, bring to a boil. Simmer for about 1 hour to make a nice broth.

Season with a generous amount of salt, and just enough saffron to make a nice yellow color. If you are using the herbs, add them now

The goal is to make a rich tasting broth that will soak into the rice to make it delicious.

Add the rice, stir to combine then reduce heat to low, and simmer until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 20 minutes.

Notes:

If you do not use par boiled rice, in a separate pan you have to fry a little bit your rice with olive oil in order to seal the grain.

If you do not have saffron you can use a little bit of paprika, the flavor is going to be a little bit different and the color of the rice a little less yellow but it works out fine.

Adding some lemon drops at the end of boiling helps to separate the rice.

If you need to calculate how much rice to make the rule is  ¼ –½ cup of rice per person (if you are serving this as a main dish)

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