Paella

I can’t believe that this blog is almost two years old and I haven’t yet mentioned paella. It’s not because I’m some sort of paella expert, or even that I cook it all that much, but the thing is, it’s the first recipe I  wrote myself a version of. “Adapted” if you will. Before I even knew what a food blog was, or that recipes were “adaptable”.  Before I considered myself a decent enough home cook.

See?

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I fell in love with this dish many years ago when I studied in Spain during undergrad.  I didn’t fall in love with Spain-not yet (ask my parents)-rather, I came down with a serious case of homesickness and barely made it through the program.  A few years later, I began taking my students to Spain and then began my, let’s say… crush.  Sidenote: that crush, though, led me in fact to my one true love (isn’t that often how it happens?), when my dad and I headed up to Carcassonne afterwards.  Then Provence, the Alps, Paris and I was one smitten girl.  But my love affair with France is a story for another time.  One I mention regularly here.  For now, I’m talking about an earlier crush.

My paella is really not all that hard and is a definite crowd-pleaser.  It can indeed be spectacular, even.  The bulk of the prep can be completed earlier, with the ingredients measured, ready and waiting by the stove top.  Before guests arrive, you can get on with sautéing the veg, slowly adding the hot broth and, when it’s almost ready save the last bit of broth to add before serving and turn off the heat.  Cover the paella and serve your appetizer.  How about the endlessly adaptable Spring Artichoke Dip?

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After your guests have devoured, and I do mean devoured, this succulent dip, you can nonchalantly head back to the kitchen for the finishing touches.  You’ll be a paella master in no time.

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Pan Catalan, easier than garlic bread (and tastier), is a necessary and utterly welcome  side.  People will think “what did  you do?” and you’ll think “not all that much really”.

And when it’s almost over, present these charming Provençal Apricot CakesThey take no time at all to make.

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Paella: Vegetarian or Not

Serves 6-8 (once I served appetizer portions to a party of 20!). Adapted from so many cookbooks that I can’t remember what they all are!
  • 2 cups arborio rice
  • 1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast (optional), large diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • a handful frozen peas
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron
  • 1/s tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 packet Paellero seasoning (optional, but you can buy it here)
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 lb. shrimp
  • 1-2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 lime, quartered.

1. In a large skillet or paella pan, cook onions in 3 tbsp. olive oil over medium heat until translucent.

2. Bring broth to a simmer on another burner.

3. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Add garlic and cook for another minute.

4. Add bell pepper, tomatoes, and rice.  Cook for 2 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, crush saffron threads, paprika and coarse salt in a mortar and pestle (or just on a cutting board) until ground. Add a couple of tablespoons of broth to this mixture.

6. Add spice mixture to skillet and slowly add broth, about 1/2 cup at a time over the course of 45 minutes or so. If using, add paellero seasoning at any point during this process. (After about 30 minutes, I stopped this process and covered broth and paella, served my appetizer and mingled with my guests.  The last 15 minutes of cooking can be done just before serving.)

7. Once broth is absorbed (if you run out of broth before rice is fully cooked, you can add a little water to paella), add shrimp and cook for a few more minutes or until the shrimp are pink and opaque.  Add peas and parsley and stir.

8. Serve in the skillet with Pan Catalan and a wedge of lime.

For the Pan Catalan, slice baguette lengthwise and then into a few pieces.  Toast in a 350° oven until browned, about 10 minutes. Rub with half a tomato, sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Serve alongside for a crunch accompaniment.

Buen provecho.

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About Liza M.

foodie, francophile, Ann Arborite, teacher, bookworm and self-professed latte-lover--come cook with me!
This entry was posted in Main dishes, Seafood. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Paella

  1. Kevin and I have been in love with Paella since having it for the first time in Barcelona. That was also when Kevin fell in love with sangria – haha. I’m curious how your recipe differs from mine…..I’ll let you know what i determine 🙂

  2. Paella à la Liza = delicious. I can vouch for that. How do you say “two thumbs up” in Spanish?

  3. La Torontoise says:

    Liza, thank you! For both the paella and the little apricot no-time-at-all-to-make cakes!
    I love paella and it’s a feature of any trip to Spain, but never tried making one at home.
    Love the pictures.
    Have a good week!

    • Liza M. says:

      Try making it when you have guests. It’s really not as hard as it looks and your guests will love it! I think you’re really going to enjoy those apricot cakes as well. They were from a Bon Appetit feature about a Picnic in Provence…have to keep my theme going here! Any summer travel plans, perhaps, to the south of France?

  4. megtraveling says:

    I just had paella in Barcelona last week! Yours look fantastic 🙂

    • Liza M. says:

      I think it was in Barcelona that I had my first! I’m sure you enjoyed Barcelona. I noticed the post about the wavy bench…LOVE Parque Guell!

  5. Megan says:

    I have more than a crush on Spain and it’s your fault. I made paella not so long ago, but wasn’t thrilled with my spices. Maybe I’ll order the ones you suggest for my next go round. Somehow I forgot about Pan Catalan. Reading this makes me want to go buy a baguette right this minute…

    • Liza M. says:

      Yay! I’m glad I could influence you in this way. I’ll never forget that year, unfortunately referred to as the “h*&# trip of 2001. Since it sparked our friendship (and your love of Spain), I’ll say it was worth it!

  6. Barb says:

    I remember said party with “appetizer portions for 20” — was hilarious watching that party attendee list grow by the minute. 😀 I first had your paella at Dave’s house, back in the Keech St. days when we first met.

  7. Liza M. says:

    Really…I have no recollection of making paella at Dave’s house. ‘Twas a long time ago!

  8. Michel says:

    Bonjour from Provence. We love Paella too and you several people making it at each market we go to. We contacted Food Network a few years ago and told them about one of our friends in Occidental who makes great paelle and said they should have Bobby Flay come to Occidental and do a “throw-down” with our friend Gerard. They did that and totally surprised Gerard but he was great and beat Bobby Flay in the paella “throw-down.” Have a great day.

  9. Liza M. says:

    That is so cool Michel! I’m going to have to look for that one in the reruns. So you are in Sablet I take it? Seething with jealousy! In fact, my friends and I are starting to plan a trip back for next summer. We’re definitely staying 2 weeks since 1 was not enough. Amusez-vous bien!

  10. sarainlepetitvillage says:

    Looks good!
    Paella is a really big deal in the south of France (something that I love!). All of the women here I know all cook a huge pot of paella at least once a year and has loads of people over. Then I get to go home with a tupperware container full of it too 🙂

  11. Liz Everett says:

    When can I come for dinner!! All your recipes look delicious!!

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