It amazes me how many people have never tried/heard of paella. Not that I make it that often, but it is such a great meal, that it disappoints me that so many people have never had it. On top of that, it is not particularly difficult to make and always is a great crowd pleaser (plus, it looks like it takes a lot of time/energy to make). If you are unfamiliar with paella, just think of it as the Spanish version of jambalaya. If you are unfamiliar with jambalaya, I'm sorry.
The Wikipedia definition of Paella is: a rice dish, originally from Valencia (Spain) where it is traditionally eaten on Sundays.
Well, I think Wikipedia might have let me down a little with that one, but if you want the full definition from them, click here. To put it simply, paella is good. Very. Good.
This meal was one of those things that just happened. I think Carolyn and I were discussing paella on Friday and when deciding what to make for Saturday's dinner, it just seemed like a good idea.
Another point on this recipe, is that I got it from Rachael Ray. I personally love Rachael Ray. I know that a lot of people don't think too highly of her, because her food is often pretty elementary. But, I really like a lot of her recipes. Although, they do not always take exactly 30 minutes, they are quick, and often very yummy. I have gotten many successful recipes from her. This is one of them. If you look at the recipe on the Food Network website, you will see that I have made a few changes. However, this is the point of paella, you make it with what you have lying around (or get from Wegman's as the case may be).
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I used slightly less and it certainly had a kick)
2 cups enriched white rice
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken broth or stock
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into thirds
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3/4 pound chorizo, casing removed and sliced on an angle
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp, 24 shrimp
1 cup frozen peas
2 lemons zested
1) In a very wide pan or paella pan (we used a medium stock pot), preheated over medium high heat, add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan, crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, add rice and saute 2 or 3 minutes. Add saffron threads, bay leaf, broth, and thyme and bring liquids to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan with lid or foil and reduce heat to simmer.
2)In a separate nonstick skillet, over medium high heat brown chicken on both sides in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan. Season chicken with salt and pepper.
3) Add peppers and onions to the pan and cook 3 minutes longer.
4) Add chorizo to the pan and cook 2 minutes more. Add mixture to rice.
5) After about 13 minutes, add shellfish to the rice pan, nesting them in cooking rice. Pour in peas, scatter lemon zest over the rice and seafood, then stir and cover the pan again. Stir rice and seafood mixture and lift out bay and thyme stems.
6) Turn heat up to medium high and cook for a few more minutes, you want to develop a crusty bottom of the rice. I'm not sure the exact time here, but just keep an eye on it and turn it off when the bottom is crunchy, not burnt.This dish is a winner. You should give it a try, it is a lot easier than you might think. Despite the fact that it was a group dinner, I did most of the cooking (which I didn't really mind, I was entertained by several rounds of song). I wasn't keeping exact time, but it couldn't have taken more than 45 minutes at the absolute most. To accompany it, we had grilled corn and "Sangria" that we concocted ourselves.
The sangria came out of the fact that we had a bottle of "good" $6 wine, about 2 bottles worth of "rifle" wine (wine that was in a bottle shaped like a rifle), and fruit.
This is the recipe that we came up with:
Approximately 2 bottles of red wine
3 shots Triple-Sec
Approximately 1 cup tonic water (or other fizzy drink like club soda or Sprite)
1) Slice fruit.
2) Mix together in pitcher.
I feel like pretty much any fruit would work, that was just what we had. It actually tasted really good (and very similar to Sangria I've had in restaurants). I think technically, you are supposed to let it sit for at least 2 hours, but we drank it right away. As the night wore on, we just kept adding more wine, triple-sec and tonic water. I definitely felt pretty "winey" by the end. Oh, and the fruit is super tasty to eat also....mmmm....