With Valencian roots, paella is a humble Spanish rice-based dish that really delivers on flavor, and ticks all the boxes when deciding what to cook when guests come over at any time of year! Equally at home in the back yard or as a cosy midwinter supper, it’s the ultimate one-pot meal that’s a perfect choice for entertaining, and once you get a heady whiff of the onions, saffron and tomatoes sizzling away in olive oil, you’ll be instantly transported to the dazzling sandy shores of the Costa or the quaint medieval villages of the Spanish countryside. Paired with a couple of loaves of crusty bread, a simple green salad and lashings of red wine – or even better, Sangria for that authentic Ole experience – making your own paella will certainly get you some much-deserved oohs and aahs at the dinner table!
The name refers to the cooking pot – a shallow metal pan with handles on either side – and a paella pan is a good investment if you fancy having a go at making your own version of this dish. They are widely available in most good kitchenware stores and online, and come in a range of sizes. Traditionally using rabbit, most paella recipes today feature chicken and a selection of fresh shellfish, with the only essential ingredients you may need to stock up on being Spanish ‘Bomba’ rice – a short-grain variety, which is stocked in some supermarkets and speciality kitchen stores – and saffron. If you can’t find Bomba, you can use Arborio rice as a substitute if needed, but it does tend to be a little stickier.
We offer regular classes on how to cook paella, but if you can’t wait for the next workshop, get your Spanish on and give this version a try!……Throw in your own fresh shrimp, mussels and squid right at the very end and give it all a squeeze of lemon juice to finish if you want to try the seafood version.
PAELLA WITH CHICKEN, SPANISH CHORIZO AND PIQUILLO PEPPERS
(Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Andrew Lubatty, The Avenue Grill)
2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs. diced chicken breast
¼ cup minced yellow onion
¼ cup minced celery
¼ cup minced carrots
1 cup paella rice, Bomba type preferred *
1 Tbs. minced garlic
½ cup white wine
¾ cup small diced Spanish chorizo
2½ cups chicken broth, simmering
¼ cup sliced green olives
¼ cup diced piquillo peppers, roasted
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro
salt and black pepper, as needed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a shallow oven-proof pan or paella pan on stove over medium heat. Add oil and brown chicken in batches, removing to sheet pan; next sauté onion, celery and carrot until softened. Season with salt and pepper.
Add rice and cook until rice is well coated and turns opaque.
Add garlic, saffron and white wine and allow to reduce by 75 percent. Add chorizo and broth. Allow to cook for 5 minutes, stirring well. The mixture should be simmering, adjust flame if necessary.
Cover with lid and place in oven 10 minutes, then remove pan and stir in chicken, olives and peppers, return to oven for 5 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to rest 10 minutes, top with cilantro, taste and adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Serves 6