October 14, 2015
I am often asked where I get my recipes, and the answer is "usually from my own recipe box, friends, family, travels, foodies..." but this recipe actually came from the store. I went to a kitchen store for a particular item (I cant even remember what the item was now) and while window shopping the shelves I found several Paella pans. I had never made Paella (pronounced pa eye a) proper, but I had made may similar dishes...I called mine simply "Rice" or "Souped Up Rice."
You do not need a paella pan to make this recipe, any large skillet will work great, simply adjust the portions to fit your pan size. The key is keeping the pan large enough to allow the rice to cook in a thin layer, forming a desired crust on the bottom of the pan.
I bought the pan because I was intrigued, you may use a large skillet or even a large Dutch oven. Here's my recipe:
Heat oil in 16-inch Paella pan (or large skillet or Dutch oven - note, you want the rice to cook in a thin layer, use a large shallow pan); add chicken and chorizo; brown 10-15 minutes (little stirring so sides brown well). Add chopped onions and continue to cook until onions are translucent; add minced garlic, cook until fragrant (30 seconds).
Sprinkle in rice; add green beans and red bell peppers. Do not stir again; boil 10-12 or until rice has absorbed most of the liquid; reduce heat to low, top with shrimp and optional peas, cook 5-7 minutes longer.
This recipe is easy and adjustable!
Recipe may be divided in half and cooked in a 10-inch skillet.
The name "Paella" comes from the specialized pan used to cook the dish. It is a large shallow pan with handles on either side. In the 18th century it became popular to cook rice over a fire in the open air on gatherings or outings in the countryside. Rice was the main ingredient, meats and vegetables were added as available - including rabbit, snails, water voles, eel, butter beans, artichokes - whatever was available. Today the ingredients are a little more tame to my taste (thank Heaven - no snails or voles). Paella generally falls into 3 basic categories - seafood, vegetarian, and mixed - but there are many others. In other words - rice (the common ingredient) cooked in a large shallow pan - and you get to add the vegetables, meat(s), and seasonings of your choice. It is a great recipe with ancient roots. Today it is popular in Americas, Western Europe, Philippines - and of course, Spain where it is considered the National Dish.
Note: this recipe does not include voles, eel or snails :) Adjust ingredients to suit your taste preference.