Paella is the national dish of Spain. It is a delicious rice dish that can be filled with your choice of meat, seafood or vegetables. It is perfect for entertaining and everyone loves to watch the process with anticipation of the wonderful meal they are about to enjoy.
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Don’t ignore this dish because you don’t have a paella pan. They vary in quality and size from 12-inches to 18-inches measured across. This 15-inch carbon steel paella pan is like the one I have and it will likely last your forever. If you don’t want to make the investment then an extra large frying pan will do the trick.
If you are serious about paella, or love to give these kind of gifts, here is a Paella gift kit that includes the pan, rice, saffron and a cookbook. When I was first married my husband gave me all kinds of food gifts like this that fuelled my passion for cooking so I highly recommend this strategy.
The Rice – Paella is made with short grain rice which is readily available in most grocery stores. It is often labeled as arborio or risotto rice. Spanish bomba rice would be the authentic choice but use what you can find and make some paella soon.
The Sofrito – The combination of vegetables and aromatic ingredients sautéed together to create the base of your paella is called sofrito. There is variation among cooks but it is most often a combination of onion, garlic, tomatoes and paprika. The vegetables can be finely chopped or grated.
The Pimentón – Considered one of the secret ingredients of paella this Spanish paprika is available in Mexican, Latin American and specialty food shops. Smoked, sweet pimentón is the favourite for paella but there are other varieties available. Use regular paprika if you cannot find this but over time it is worth the investment.
The Saffron – Saffron threads are hand picked from the purple crocus flower thus the high price. It is often referred to as the most expensive spice in the world. However, only a few threads of saffron added to any dish imparts a unique aroma and flavour, followed by a taste and aroma that does not disappoint.
The Additions – Paella is a rice dish and can include seafood, meat and vegetables. The combination can be varied to suit your taste. Try three or four foods at first, resisting the urge to include so many foods you overwhelm the taste of the dish.
My favourite paella contains chicken, chorizo sausage, shrimp and mussels or sometimes chorizo sausage, red peppers, green beans and artichoke hearts. I made a mistake making my grocery list and the result is the seafood version you see in this photo.
If you like the idea of a Gourmet Dinner Club evening here is my Spanish menu. Let me know in the comments below how this turned out.
If you love mussels try:
|¼ tsp saffron threads|
|8 oz bottle clam juice|
|4-5 cups GF chicken stock|
|MEAT AND VEGETABLES (optional, see recipe description)|
|1 Tbsp olive oil|
|1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in chunks|
|1 GF chorizo sausage, sliced|
|½ red pepper, chopped|
|¼ cup olive oil|
|1 medium onion, grated in large holes of a box grater|
|3 tomatoes halved and grated in large holes of a box grater to measure 1¼ cups juicy tomato pulp|
|8 cloves garlic, 4 finely chopped and 4 left whole|
|½ tsp pimentón (Spanish paprika)|
|¼ tsp salt|
|1¾ cups arborio rice or Spanish bomba rice|
|12-18 shrimp, peeled|
|½ cup frozen peas|
|Chopped fresh parsley, lemon slices or wedges|
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