A Happy New Year one and all. I hope 2016 brings everyone good health, peace and contentment. I can hardly believe we are at the start of a new year already. The weather has been simply amazing in our neck of the woods – it is January and not a snowflake in sight, although I must say it has gotten a lot colder compared to the unseasonably warm temperatures we experienced in December. With the cooler weather brings comfort foods and today I present a seafood paella transporting you to Spain, where this dish gained its popularity. Paella is known to have made its debut in the Valencia region of Spain back in the 1800’s; it combines both the Roman and Arabic cultures. Historically paella was made with leftovers and depending on the particular region in Spain, seafood, chicken, chorizo and even rabbit were added to this rich one-pot dish.
I had always wanted to take a lesson or two experiencing various cuisines whenever we traveled, and Madrid allowed me this opportunity about 7 years ago. I made this dish over the Christmas break, it brought back warm, wonderful memories of our visit there. My daughter who lived in Spain for a couple of years always brought me Spanish saffron and smoked paprika whenever she came home for a visit, so I have my own secret stash. You will find pictures of me at the bottom of this post learning the authentic way of preparing paella and also sangria. Here is the chef’s recipe. Do not feel intimidated if you do not have all of the ingredients, you can always compromise. ~Serve the paella warm with your favorite white wine~
- Vegetable oil
- 7 oz. chicken
- 7 oz. calamari
- 7 oz. white fish
- 7 oz. prawns
- 8 oz. mussels
- 8 oz. clams
- 1.5 oz. peas
- 3 oz. green pepper
- 3 oz. red pepper
- 2 garlic cloves
- 3 spoons of fried tomato sauce
- 14 oz short-grain rice or one ladle per person
- pinch of salt
- pinch of saffron threads soaked in water
- pinch of smoked paprika
- 1.8 pints of chicken/shell stock
- Peel the prawns, clean and cook the mussels and clams in water until they open, before removing one shell and using for garnish. Use this same water to make a stock with the prawn shells which you will later add to the rice.
- Dice the peppers, garlic, chicken and calamari.
- Place the frying pan or “paellera” over a low-medium heat and add the oil. When hot, add the garlic, the green and red pepper to form the base of the “sofrito”.
- Add the chicken, white fish, the calamari, the prawns and the peas. Stir the ingredients well to prevent burning. Add the rice and the fried tomato sauce and continue to stir-fry. Add the chicken stock/shell stock, salt, saffron, smoked paprika. Cook over high heat for 20 minutes until the rice starts to rise above the stock, (shaking the pan, not stirring) from side to side when the stock bubbles.
- Decorate with mussels and prawns.
- Bake in the oven at full heat for 5 minutes and then rest and cover before serving.
Here’s a picture of the paella I learned with the chef in Madrid 7 years ago. The presentations are always elaborate.