I’m still surprised now and then when I come across a food I’ve never heard of before. For me, that was the discovery of Paella in Barcelona back in the summer of 2010. Being the meatetarian I am, I loved that a traditionally seafood-based recipe could be altered to substitute meats for shellfish. Those first few bites of that saffron-scented rice, with the fresh zest of tomato and peppers, and the bold spice of chorizo sausage instantly sparked my desire to perfect the dish at home. After many attempts, I think I’ve finally developed a recipe that works in a home kitchen with basic ingredients and tools.
2 cups short grain rice (calrose, arborio, etc. are all suitable)
6 cups chicken broth (my go-to is Better Than Boullion)
1 can crushed tomato (I used a fire-roasted crushed tomato, which gave the recipe a more intense and slightly smoky flavour)
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 pinch saffron
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper
1 orange bell pepper
1/4 – 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
For an all-meat version: I did 4 chorizo sausages from Rain Shadow Meats (2 Mexican chorizo, and 2 Spanish chorizo), you could substitute 2 of the sausages for 2-3 chicken thighs, chopped into bite-sized pieces
For a seafood version: 2 chorizo sausages, 8-12 mussels, 8-12 raw prawns/shrimp
salt and pepper to taste
[If doing a seafood version, skip this step] Heat a large, shallow flat-bottomed pan on medium-high (it can be a proper paella pan, but my substitute smaller pan worked for the space I had). Brown chicken and sausages in pan until mostly cooked through; remove and set aside, leaving the dark oils from the chorizo in the pan. After the sausages have rested, slice them into bite-sized pieces.
Reduce heat to medium, and melt butter and oil in the pan. Add the rice, and stir well to coat all grains. Allow rice to slightly toast, stirring occasionally, about 5-7 minutes. Add the paprika and saffron, and stir well to coat all grains and allow oils in the paprika and saffron to begin releasing.
Meanwhile, in a smaller pot, heat the 6 cups chicken stock. Once the rice and spices have started releasing their oils, add in the crushed tomato, onion, and garlic.
At this point, add the meat, peppers, and parsley in. Then, much like a risotto, add in chicken stock a few ladles full at a time, stirring and allowing the rice to soak up the broth before adding a few more ladles full.
If you are doing a seafood version, wait until the rice is about halfway cooked, then add in the shellfish to give it time to cook.
Once all stock has been added to the paella, the rice should be perfectly al dente. Taste, and season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Serves 8 people.