Friday, January 31, 2014

Paella, Baby

While studying abroad in Spain, paella was a dish that we saw again and again. I'm a big fan of saffron, meat, and flavorful rice, so I fell in love instantly. Aside from a class in Madrid, I had never cooked it until I moved to Boise, the city with the largest Basque community in the United States. It's served at a handful of restaurants, but the standout can be found at the Basque Market. Cooked for hours in a paellera and filled with mussels, shrimp, and chorizo, this is the kind of dish that foodies dream about. After trying it, I knew I was either going to have to start working there so I could eat it all the time or learn how to make it myself. I was in heaven when I found the recipe online, and it's now a regular in the dinner rotation.

Recipe, adapted from the Boise Basque Market:
(Serves 4-6)

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 cup pimentos or pimento stuffed green olives, diced
1 cup vegetables (I use frozen peas)
12 ounces sausage, cooked and sliced (I use four links of chipotle chorizo chicken sausage)
12 ounces raw shrimp or chicken (I use chicken tenderloins or shrimp peeled with tails removed)
1 1/2 cups Valencia or brown rice
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
8-10 strands saffron

In a small pot, heat broth and saffron to a low simmer.
In a paella pan (paellera) or large, deep pan, heat oil and saute onion on medium heat until golden brown and soft. Add sausage and peppers and saute until meat is heated through. Add garlic and paprika and stir to combine.
Add rice and mix until all grains are coated. Pour in wine and bring to a boil, stirring until all the wine is absorbed. Stir in broth and bring to a simmer.
Allow paella to simmer for about 10 minutes. Nestle seafood or chicken into the rice and top with pimentos and vegetables. Allow it to simmer for about 10 minutes more, adding additional broth or water if rice becomes dry before it is cooked through. If using chicken, remove from pan when it's cooked, shred or chop and return to the pan.
Simmer until all the broth has absorbed and the rice is tender. Remove from heat and let paella rest for 10 minutes before serving. I usually serve mine with steamed broccoli or a salad for extra veggies.

P.S. These soup bowls are my new obsession. We got them from our Pottery Barn wedding registry (thanks, guys!) and I have used them for everything from oatmeal to chili to pasta. If you're looking for a versatile bowl, check them out.


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