10 March 2009

Spanish Paella

A few weeks ago I was the lucky winner of some Red Gold tomatoes from Peef & Lo of Burp. I recieved some delicious cans of a variety of tomatoes from the Red Gold company. Red Gold began in 1942 when Grover Hutcherson and his daughter, Fran, rebuilt a Midwest cannery to provide fresh-tasting canned food products for the war effort. More than half a century later, they remain a family-owned business based in the heart of Tomato Country. Red Gold has been producing premium quality tomato products since 1942. The Red Gold family of consumer brands includes Red Gold, Redpack, and Tuttorosso canned tomato products, along with Sacramento Juices. A good harvest begins with strong roots and they can trace theirs back three generations!!!

With this bounty I felt I needed to make something special so decided upon a classic dish I have been preparing for years. I have no idea where the recipe came from because it has been a "go-to" recipe since I was knee high to a grasshopper.

Paella is currently an internationally-known rice dish from Spain. It originated in the fields of a region called Valencia in eastern Spain. Today paella is made in every region of Spain, using just about any kind of ingredient that goes well with rice. There are as many versions of paella as there are cooks. It may contain chicken, pork, shellfish, fish, eel, squid, beans, peas, artichokes or peppers. Saffron, the spice that also turns the rice a wonderful golden color is an essential part of the dish.

How to Season a Paella Pan

  • Before cooking in a paella pan, be sure to season the pan. Although there are different ways to do this, the simplest method is to first wash the pan with warm water and soap and dry with a soft cloth immediately.

  • While the pan is still warm, using a soft cloth or paper towel, rub olive oil over the entire inside of the pan. If the pan is not warm after washing, place it in the oven on warm for a few minutes, then rub the oil on it.

  • It is very important to thoroughly clean the pan immediately after each use. Then, before storing it, rub it with olive oil to prevent it from rusting.
    If you ever pull out your pan and it has begun to rust, don’t panic and run out to buy a new one!

  • Simple use a soapy steel wool pad to gently wash it and rub off the rust. Then, rub with olive oil to season it again

  • If you do not have a paella pan, use a 13-inch or larger skillet, or divide the ingredients between 2 medium skillets. Stainless steel or anodized aluminum skillets work best. Do not use cast iron or nonstick.

Typical Paellas

Traditional Paella Valenciana - This recipe has rabbit, chicken and snails, as well as beans and artichokes.
Paella de Marisco - Also known as paella mixta because it contains seafood and chicken, this is probably the most popular version overseas and with visitors to Spain.
Paella Vegetariana - Vegetarians – don’t despair! This version is for you. It contains white beans, artichokes, eggplant and peppers.

Before I move on to the recipe I would love to point out that our foodie friend Gloria of both Cookbook Cuisine and Foods and Flavors of San Antonio is holding a big party Fiesta of Foods and Flavors to celebrate her new cookbook Foods and Flavors of San Antonio. It's already on bookstore shelves and available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. From what I have seen of her cookbook tour through her friends the recipes are delicious and colourful as Tex-Mex cooking should be!!! The original Tex-Mex recipes that foodies are bringing to the party are being compiled into a new cookbook. Gloria is such a busy woman!!! Since food is for sharing, this new cookbook is going to be a fundraiser for the San Antonio Food Bank.

I am also submitting this to My Kitchen, My World, which is hosted by Lauren from I'll Eat you and her new side-kick Andrea over at Nummy Kitchen. Rather than visiting a different country each week, we'll be traveling to different countries every two weeks. This week it was Spain!!

**Spanish Paella**

4 cups homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock, more as needed
1 tsp. saffron (10 threads or more)
about ¼ cup olive oil, more if needed
8 skinless chicken thighs, chopped in half and seasoned with salt and pepper, or 8 boneless breasts
3 chorizo sausages, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound shelled & cleaned shrimp marinated in:

1 clove garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 T chopped parsley
½ cup oil
½ cup white wine

12 mussels, well scrubbed
1 small head of garlic (remove excess papery skins, trim the top, and make a shallow cut around its equator to speed cooking), also
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch wide strips
9 ounces frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
¾ cup chopped onion,
1 (14.5 oz/411 g) can RED GOLD tomatoes
1-1/2 cups arborio, Calasparra or Bomba rice (important what type of rice is used)
½ cup fresh or frozen peas, cooked and drained
2 lemons, cut in wedges for garnish

1. In a saucepan, bring the stock to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer and cover. Put the saffron on a 3-inch wide strip of aluminum foil, fold up the foil to make a square packet, and set the foil directly on the lid of the simmering stock for about 15 minutes. Unfold the packet, transfer the saffron to a mortar (or a small bowl), add a pinch of salt, and use the pestle (or the back of spoon) to crush the saffron. Add about ½ cup of the hot stock to the saffron and let saffron steep for about 15 minutes. Add the saffron-infused liquid back to the stock. Taste; the stock should be well-seasoned, so add more salt if necessary. Remove from the heat until ready to add to the rice.

2. Marinate the shrimp for at least 1 hour using ingredients mentioned.

3. Steam the mussels in 1 cup of boiling water until they open, about 5 minutes. Discard any that do not open. Reserve the mussels and cooking liquor. Strain the liquor. Add liquor to the reserved chicken stock.

4. Set a paella pan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, chorizo sausage and the head of garlic; saute until the chicken is golden, 10 – 15 minutes. The oil may splatter, and you may need to turn down the heat. Transfer the partially cooked chicken and sausage to a platter. The head of garlic stays in the pan.

5. Reduce the heat to medium-low. In the same pan, saute the red pepper slices slowly until they are very limp, 20 to 25 minutes, adding more oil if necessary. They shouldn’t brown too much.

6. When the peppers are done, transfer the pieces to a plate, cover with foil, and set aside. Slowly saute the artichokes in the same pan, still on medium-low until the artichokes are golden and tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, when the pepper pieces are cool enough to handle, peel off and discard the skin. When the artichokes are done transfer to the platter with the chicken and sausage.

7. If there is more than 1 T. of the oil in the pan, pour out the excess. Increase the heat to medium and saute the chopped onion and crushed garlic until the onion is soft (it is alright if it gets slightly brown), about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes (finely chopped or grated). Season well with salt and saute until the water from the tomatoes have cooked out and the mixture, called a sofrito, has darkened to a burgundy colour and is a very thick puree, 5 to 10 minutes. If you are not cooking the rice immediately, remove the pan from the heat.

8. About a half hour before you are ready to eat, bring the stock and reserved mussel liquor back to a simmer and set the paella pan with the sofrito over your largest burner (or over 2 burners) on medium heat, noticing if the pan sits level. When the sofrito is hot, add the rice, stirring until it is translucent, 10 to 2 minutes.

9. Spread out the rice (it should just blanket the bottom of the pan), and arrange the chicken and chorizo in the pan. Increase the heat to medium-high and pour in 3-1/2 cups of the simmering stock (reserving ½ cup). As the stock comes to a boil, push the head of garlic to the centre. Cook until the rice begins to appear above the liquid, 8 to 10 minutes., rotating the pan over one and two burners as necessary to distribute the heat to all areas. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Continue to simmer, rotating the pan as necessary, until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes more. To check for doneness, taste a grain just below the top layer of rice—there should be a very tiny white dot in the centre. If the liquid is absorbed but the rice is not done, add a bit more hot stock or water to the pan and cook a few minutes more. Remove the shrimp from the marinade before adding to the paella. Add steamed mussels, peas and artichokes. Stir once. Lay peppers in the pan, starburst-like. Cover the pan with foil and cook gently for another 2 minutes, which will help ensure that the top layer of rice is evenly cooked. With the foil in place, increase the heat to medium high and, turning the pan, cook until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, creating the socarrat, 1 to 2 minutes. You may hear the rice crackling, which is fine, but if it starts to burn, remove the pan from the heat immediately. To check for socarrat, peel back the foil and use a spoon to feel for a slight crust on the bottom of the pan.

10. Remove the pan from the heat and let paella rest, still covered, 5 to 10 minutes. Sit everyone down at the table an serve directly from the pan, starting at the perimeter and working toward the centre, squeezing lemon wedges over.

11. Lay the peppers in the pan, starburst-like. Cover the pan with foil and cook gently for another 2 minutes, which will help ensure that the top layer of rice is evenly cooked. With the foil in place, increase the heat to medium-high and, turning the pan, cook until the bottom layer of rice starts to caramelize, creating the socarrat, 1 to 2 minutes. You may hear the rice crackling, which is fine, but if it starts to burn, remove the pan from the heat immediately. To check for socarrat, peel back the foil and use a spoon to feel for a slight crust on the bottom of the pan.

12. Remove the pan from the heat and let paella rest, still covered, 5 to 10 minutes. Serve directly from the pan with lemon wedges.

Serves 8

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  1. Your paella looks fabulous! Very well presented and surely mighty tasty!



  2. Your paella is gorgeous - definitely one of my favourite dishes.

  3. Gorgeous Val and just what I'm craving all I need is time and company.

  4. Paella looks so colorful and flavorful Val.Thanks for your input on weight loss on my blog..appreciate it!

  5. You paella looks great.and niclely done I haven’t made paella in years.But I still had bomba rice and saffron in my pantry just in case

  6. Hmm, excellent dish! I love paella and might be trying a black version soon. Thanks for the tips and recipe :)

  7. It seems that this is your lucky year, winning such lovely gifts. The paella sounds delicious and beautifully presented. Why don't you send your entry to click as well since there is wood in your picture?

  8. This reminds me, I need to re-season my wok and my cast iron skillet, too.

    I love that you said "knee-high to a grasshopper". Such a cute turn of phrase. :)

    Also, gorgeous paella you got there.

  9. Mmm, mmm, good! I like your version of Paella! I've only made it once, years and years ago. This sounds just soooo scrumptious! Congrats on winning the tomatoes, too!

  10. I love paella. I would say you used your maters well! Nice!

  11. I've always wanted a paella pan and never got around to getting one. Of course anything with saffron has to be good. I could dive right into that dish.

  12. I love paella but never make it at home. Looking at yours, I should. Looks delicous Val.

  13. We made a scaled down version of paella about a week ago, and it was delish. Wish we had a paella pan though. Great tips!

  14. I've never had paella, but I've always wanted to try it. I hear the crispy rice is what makes it so good.

    Congrats on the Red Gold tomatoes. We have those here. I'm wondering where that company is located. I guess I should check.

  15. Val, that's another great informative post and brilliant recipe.

  16. This is fit for a king Val! Beautiful! Sorry I've been mia, work kicked my butt last week, the older I get the harder it is to bounce back from a week like that, did I just admit I'm getting old...nah!

  17. "Since I was knee high to a grasshopper." I've never heard that one before. I love colloquialisms like that. And I love this paella, Val.

  18. This is AWESOME, Val. Glad you're enjoying the tomatoes. I'm a huge paella fan, and this recipe looks fantastic.

    Totally behind on my blog reading, so I'm relieved that I hobbled over in time and didn't miss this!

  19. Hi Val. Thanks so much for mentioning my cookbook. It was really sweet of you. :)
    Your paella looks fabulous.

  20. Val. you surely are the queen of Events....do you miss even 1??? Great paella recipe, thx!

  21. That looks beautiful! I'm hungry ... :-)

  22. Hola Val! Wow, you are so daring!!! Paella is not an easy one and you did a good job here :D. Socarrat is not a must in Paella but there's lots of people who love it.
    I keep on getting surprised on how many interpretations and versions of Paella can be done! Buen provecho dear :D

  23. indeed rice is a staple - i just wish i could get my family to appreciate it more than bread

    i really enjoyed reading about the red gold company - and i loved the photo showing the pick up truck, a common sight for us in hania (we own one ourselves)

  24. I love Paella! I have the pan and everything!
    Yours looks so delicious, so nice to have gourmet tomatoes to inspire you - and they are even better when you win them!

  25. Bravo! Your 'go to' recipe is a good one and you executed it beautifully.

  26. Such a delicious meal in one pot. My family love paella, I try to make it once a month, sometimes I make vegetarian version too, but most of the time I make the authentic one. Because, that's our favorite one.

  27. Your go to recipe since you were knee high to a grasshopper is paella? You are so out of my league. I am in awe.

  28. This is a beautiful dish, Val! I really enjoy paella. I remember visiting Spain when I was 14 and being a little freaked out by the full/head-on shrimp, lol. I definitely love it though!

  29. yum! we used to go to a spanish restaurant in calgary that had the BEST paella, i've always been afraid to make it at home. thanks for all the recipes, they all sound great.

  30. Oh man that paella looks great!

  31. Your paella is gorgeous Val and congrats on the win of toms.

    Rosie x

  32. I love a good paella and yours looks more than good! (Actually, I might have to pick out the mussels, shhhh..!)

  33. Thanks for the Paella-seasoning tips...sounds alot like what one does with cast-iron skillets and woks.

    Paella is internationally enjoyed with good reason...diverse and usually delish.

  34. I have been wanting to try Paella and that looks really good!


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