Spanish paella originated in Valencia, Spain. It may be the most famous Spanish recipe in the world. As long as you have the rice base, almost anything can be added to a paella. Some recipes call for ell, squid, artichokes, or beans. Saffron, the expensive spice that imparts that lovely golden color, is a necessity in this recipe. It is the long cooking time that truly makes the dish. All of the flavors blend together into a complex combination that is so good it defies description.
To prepare a truly authentic recipe for Spanish paella, you should cook it over an open fire, though a charcoal barbecue grill would suffice. Originally, this rice dish was prepared out in the fields, when the workers would cook rice over an open fire and they would throw in whatever they found in the fields or brought from home. On special occasions, they would add a chicken or a rabbit. Vegetables and snails were common ingredients.
You can serve your Spanish paella in the pan it was cooked in, or you can artistically arrange it in a large flat dish. In this case, the shellfish can be artfully arranged to follow the shape of the dish and brightly colored ingredients like red pepper can be arranged into a pattern. This dish is a meal in its own right, but you can also serve it with bread or salad.
- 4 Tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 6 skinless chicken thighs or breasts
- 2 ham hocks
- 2 cups onion, diced, divided
- 1 cup celery, roughly chopped
- 1 cup carrots, roughly chopped
- 3 Tablespoons garlic, minced
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 cups seafood stock
- 2 quarts water
- 1 Tablespoon saffron, dissolved in 1 cup warm water for 3 minutes
- 1 pound Mexican chorizo
- 1 cup red bell peppers, diced
- 1 cup green peas
- 3 cups Arborio rice
- 2 Tablespoons salt
- 2 Tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
- 6 scallops
- 6 mussels
- 6 clams
- ¼ cup Roma tomatoes (garnish)
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large stock pot over high heat. Add the chicken and ham hocks. Brown the chicken on all sides. Remove the chicken to a plate, set aside. To the ham hocks in the pot, add 1 cup of onions, celery, carrots and garlic. Let everything cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Use the white wine to deglaze the pan and let it reduce by half. Add the seafood stock, water, and saffron. Let it simmer for 2 hours or until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain the liquid and return it to low heat.
In a paella pan or large sauté pan, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, the bell pepper, chorizo, and the remaining onion. Cook until the onions are translucent. Do not let them brown. Add the rice to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until each rice grain is coated with oil from the pan. Smooth the rice so it is level in the pan. Add 1 cup of broth at a time, but do not let it disturb the rice. Let it cook until the rice is al dente, or not quite done. Add the chicken, peas, shrimp, clams, scallops, and mussels. Settle the seafood into the rice so they cook.
Add one final cup of broth to the pan and cover it tightly. Let the dish sit off of the heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the seafood is cooked.
Garnish with scallions and tomatoes.
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