Paella! Should always be written with an exclamation point at the end. Because it’s exciting! It was certainly the punch in the mouth I needed lately. In a non-violent, non scary way.
I’ve been an extremely grumpybear the past couple weeks. Yes, I said grumpybear (I like to use ‘bear’ as a suffix). I felt like I was making the same kinds of dishes over and over again. So one of my friends suggested that I make Paella! Why Paella?! Because he wanted step-by-step photo instructions on how to make it for himself. And what are friends for if they can’t manipulate each other into getting what they want?
Of course, I’m saying that jokingly. Since I ransacked his apartment and stole all his stuff last month. And I got him to believe I helped him clean out his apartment for him. He even thanked me for taking his possessions off his hands.
So we’re even now.
Paella! is so friggin delicious!!! Paella (Pie-Aey-A) is a Spanish dish that has a bunch of meats and/or seafood cooked with rice, and spices. I looked through various websites trying to figure out the best way to cook this without all the extra equipment (paella pan). And after trial and error, I provide for you a foolproof recipe. This recipe requires that you cook some ingredients on the stovetop first, then put all the ingredients into a large, deep baking pan, and bake until the rice absorbs all the flavors of the seafood and meats. And paella! is especially easy to throw together with as many meats and seafood as you like. Just use roughly the same proportions I have, and the rice will bake up nice and fluffy in the oven. If you like chicken, substitute cooked and cubed chicken for the chorizo I’ve used, or split it. If you like fresh mussels, substitute that for the canned baby clams I’ve used. And so on. You really can’t go wrong.
The most time consuming part of this recipe is cutting up the ingredients. Other than that, putting it together is fairly easy.
A few must have spices for this dish include: Paprika, Rosemary, Thyme, Cumin and Saffron. That is what will bring out the flavors for paella.
Serves: 6 to 8 people
1 small green bell pepper
1 small red bell pepper
1 small yellow bell pepper
2 garlic cloves
4 chorizo sausages
10 oz. clams
6 oz. tilapia
1/2 cup mild olive oil
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. saffron
4 Tbsp. capers (optional)
24 oz. rice, uncooked
48 fl. oz. chicken broth
lemon wedges for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
Equipment: skillet and deep baking dish (roughly 15.5” x 11.5” x 2.5”)
1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Chop peppers, onion, and tomato into small pieces. Mince garlic. Set in bowl all together. Slice chorizo into small pieces, set aside in bowl. Cut tilapia into small chunks, same size as chorizo. Set aside in bowl. To that bowl, add deveined and shelled shrimp, and clams.
2) Heat 1/4 cup oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Add garlic, onion, peppers and tomatoes. Cook until onion is translucent. Set aside in bowl.
3) Heat another 1/4 cup oil in the skillet on medium high heat. Toast rice in skillet until translucent. Put rice in baking dish, add broth, paprika, rosemary, thyme, cumin, saffron and capers. Add vegetables, seafood and meat. Mix so everything is covered with broth and spices are equally distributed around pan.
4) Bake at 450 degrees, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Check towards the end of the baking time to see if all the liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked thoroughly (oven times and temperatures vary). Serve with lemon wedges, salt and pepper to taste.
Like I said, cutting up the ingredients is the most time consuming part of the process. At least for me it is. Unless you have mad chopping skills.
It was probably slow going for me since I was drinking wine and watching TV as I was cutting up peppers. It probably affected my concentration and I could’ve chopped a finger or two off. But it’d probably just end up looking like chorizo afterwards.
Wait, did I just say that?! No…no I didn’t.
Cutting the vegetables and fingers into the same sizes will guarantee they cook equally at the same time. Did I say fingers? I meant fingers.
I’m just kidding. I didn’t cut any fingers up.
The fresh clams at the store were offered at $6 per 2 dozen. I am cheap, so I bought a 10 oz. can of baby clams for $1.89.
Here are some chicken fingers I mean sausages.
I was a little irked that our fancy supermarket didn’t carry standard Chorizo sausages anymore. They offer Chicken Chorizo (not as much Uumph as normal Chorizo), it was either that or gourmet Chorizo for $10 a package!!! I can’t afford $10 sausages. That costs as much as an arm and a leg and a finger!
Chop chorizo as shown above.
A small bottle of saffron costs between $4-$16. I don’t understand the price range, nor do I ever use saffron in my cooking. But almost all the paella recipes I’ve seen used saffron, so I figured it was necessary. It’s a good spice staple to have in your pantry. I’ll probably use it in other dishes later on.
Cook the veggies in oil until the onions are translucent. Set aside in bowl. Then toast the rice in oil until translucent.
Put rice in baking dish, add broth, paprika, rosemary, thyme, cumin, saffron and capers. Add vegetables, seafood and meat. Mix so everything is covered with broth and spices are equally distributed around pan.
*Capers are typically sold in glass jars, by the jarred stuff (pickles, olives, peppers). Good to know, if you’ve never used or seen them before.
Bake at 450 degrees, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Check towards the end of the baking time to see if all the liquid is absorbed and rice is cooked thoroughly (oven times and temperatures vary).
This dish came out beautifully. The rice cooked up fluffy and absorbed all the delicious flavors of the peppers, seafood and chorizo. We couldn’t stop eating it after we were stuffed. It’s an undo your belt buckle kind of meal. Or a sweatpants with elastic band-wearing kind of meal.
Salt and pepper to your taste. I do this at the end because I never know how salty or peppery each person wants their dish.
If you like your dish a little spicy, add a spicy hot sauce you prefer. A couple drops of this Chile Habanero we got from Mexico burns my mouth into the fiery depths of the underworld.
Serve with lemon wedges.