A Paella Event on the River

Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Local Cook 

Ahh that Paella! If you’ve had the opportunity to travel to open air markets in Spain, France and even Finland, you can partake of this classic specialty loaded with seafood, chicken, possibly ham, vegetables and rice as the base for all of the abundant ingredients. It can be intimidating and quite a challenge for there are many a Paella failure. I was thrilled when friends decided to build their specialty over a wood fire on the bank of the Severn River as you see in my photos. I followed their every move -even the way they had their station set up. They were most impressive!
 Lolita’s Paella is a treatise-straight from the Motherland and lends color to Spain’s enticing dish. The next Paella recipe is less involved and adapted to taste and preparation in the US. Our river version was more of the simplified recipe, with our intrepid leaders throwing in ingredients of their design like local rockfish or perch and calamari. Best of all, when people find the right combination of ingredients and timing, they use this as their all-time specialty.

 

 Recipe – Lolita’s Paella Valenciana (HotPaella’s Own Famous Recipe)

Origins of the Recipe

Originating in the country outside of the city of Valencia, where the fertile river valleys run into the Mediterranean sea, Arroz a la Paella is truly a masterpiece of Spanish cuisine. Valencia’s temperate climate and fertile lands make an ideal spot for growing specialty rice, and the proximity to the sea make seafood plentiful. The locals would utilize the ingredients available, rice and seafood, to make marvelous feasts in honor of birthdays, Saint’s days, and festivals. Arroz a la Paella takes it’s name from the wide shallow pan that it is cooked in, traditionally called the Paella or Paellera – that’s correct, it is the pan itself that is called the Paella!

The secret to a great Paella is in the sofrito

The mistake most beginners make is they skimp on the sofrito ingredients and think it is only the seafood and chicken that matters. The majority of the flavor comes from the olive oil, pork, spices, peppers, and tomato that are used in the sofrito. We are not talking about bland tomato rice here! We are talking about rice that bursts with flavor and re-affirms to you why Paella is such a talked about dish!

Recipe Size

We find this recipe to be ideal for a 40cm (16 inch) pan – serves about 9.

  •  For a 32cm (13 inch) pan, divide the recipe by half – serves about 5
  • For a 50cm (20 inch) pan, multiply the recipe by two – serves about 14
  • For a 70cm (28 inch) pan, multiply the recipe by three – serves about 25

Ingredients

  • 10 pieces split chicken wings or wing drumettes
  • 1 pound pork short ribs (have your butcher cut the ribs into 1″ sections, crosswise cutting the bones)
  • ½ pound shrimp (with shells)
  • 3 large scallops cut in half (or 6 small)
  • 1 pound assorted mussels and clams
  • ½ to 1 cup Tomate Frito, tomato sauce, or tomato puree.
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced or chopped)
  • 3-6 Piquillo peppers (sliced into strips) plus a few strips reserved to use as garnish
  • ½ cup peas
  • 1 cup fresh green beans (cut into 1″ sections)
  • 1 tsp. Saffron threads
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups Paella rice
  • 4-6 cups shellfish broth or substitute chicken broth or bouillon.
  • Salt to taste

Prep Time/ Cook Time

30 minutes preparation, 35 minutes cooking (cooking time may vary depending on the type of burner/stove/oven you are using)

 

Instructions

To make the shellfish broth:

Boil the mussels and clams in 6 cups of water until the shells start to open. Drain, reserve the liquid, and discard any unopened shells.

For the sofrito:

Add the olive oil to the Paella pan and sauté the chicken wings and pork for 5-10 minutes under medium-high heat.

Add the Tomate Frito, Piquillo peppers, and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Build the Paella:

Add the rice and stir the mixture to coat, about 1 minute.

Add the peas, green beans, shrimp, scallops, and saffron. Stir under medium heat for 1 minute to incorporate the mixture.

Tip From Yaya’s Kitchen: Be sure to crush the saffron threads to release the flavor before adding. Also keep in mind that saffron releases it’s flavor with heat, so be sure to add it while the paella is cooking.

Add the hot shellfish broth to the rice mixture (add 6 cups if using Bomba Rice, otherwise add 4 cups.)

Tip From Yaya’s Kitchen: From the point of adding the hot shellfish broth and the liquid coming to a boil, the total cooking time to completion of the recipe will be about 15-18 minutes (it may take a few minutes longer for deep pans, if using a small burner/stove, or if using a slow-cooking rice such as Bomba.) Do not stir after this point, and control the heat so the bottom is not scorched.

Add salt to taste (it is best to add less at first, as the seafood releases salt while cooking.) Arrange the mussels, clams, and the piquillo peppers reserved as garnish onto the surface of the paella. Continue cooking until rice is almost done, but still firm in the center (al dente.)

Garnish with lemon wedges and enjoy the best Paella of your life!

Tips for Beginners

  • Paella is more of an art than a science, so it may take a little practice to be able to make it quickly. These tips may help:
  • Have your ingredients cleaned, chopped, and measured in individual bowls so that you may add them quickly when the recipe is cooking.
  • Be sure to use a big enough burner or stove for your pan. Ideally, you want a medium-low flame that is dispersed over the entire bottom of the pan.
  • Cooking times are approximate; lower heat = longer cooking time, higher heat = faster cooking time (but at the risk of burning.)
  • The amount of liquid to add to the rice varies depending on the rice variety and the other ingredients you have added to the paella. When the cooking is half way done, feel free to add a little more liquid to the pan if the rice seems too dry.
  • If the rice doesn’t seem to be cooking properly around the edges because the burner/stove you are using is just a little too small, you may partially cover the edges of the pan to help retain heat and ensure even cooking.

Regional Variations

Each region of Spain has their own unique variation of Paella, so feel free to experiment. Journey to the mountainous regions by adding chorizo, rabbit, or judion beans; journey to the coast by adding squid or langostino (lobster); or discover your own favorite by experimenting with smoked paprika, onions, or even vegetarian.

 

A version of Paella in Finland

Easy Paella

Although this certainly is not a instant recipe, it is less tedious than the original recipe from Spain.

  •  2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups uncooked short-grain white rice
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound chorizo sausage, casings removed and crumbled
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and lemon zest. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Stir in marinated chicken and onion; cook 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and sausage; cook 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp; cook, turning the shrimp, until both sides are pink.

Spread rice mixture onto a serving tray. Top with meat and seafood mixture.

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