Quite colorful and versatile, paella (pie-ey-a) sprang from the kitchens of Valencia, Spain, in the mid-1800s. As with many iconic dishes, this rice-based favorite resulted from a blend of peoples.
“Spanish food historian Lourdes March notes that the dish ‘symbolizes the union and heritage of two important cultures, the Roman, which gives us the utensil, and the Arab, which brought us the basic food of humanity (rice) for centuries,” Wikipedia reports.
“There is an old story of how the Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes by mixing the leftovers from royal banquets in large pots to take home,” The Kitchen Project says. “It is said by some that that word paella originates from the Arab word ‘baqiyah’ meaning leftovers. The term paella actually refers to the pan that it is cooked in.”
Among the many versions of this wonderful dish, I prefer paella made with seafood and chorizo.
Other variations get made with combinations of poultry and seafood, meats and beans, or vegetables only.
Saffron rice serves as the main ingredient for any paella.
Recently I had a dinner party for very special friends and spared no expense. Saffron is an extremely expensive spice. Since then, I’ve made the dish several times with a more affordable, Mahatma’s Yellow Rice. The results have been every bit as good.
A side note, this recipe can be a little daunting. But if you have all the ingredients ready, it should fall into place easily.
A green salad and crusty bread compliment paella nicely for a complete meal.
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Five-ounce packages of yellow rice (Mahatma)
3-1/3 cups chicken broth
1 pound Aidells Chorizo, sliced in ½-inch pieces
1 pound deveined shrimp (21 to 25
16 littleneck clams, scrubbed
16 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
8 ounces squid, ¼-inch slices
8 ounces scallops
1-½ cups fresh or frozen peas
Have all of your ingredients measured and ready.
In a paella pan or 14-inch skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper and cook until the onion is translucent. Stir in garlic and cook one minute. Add the packets of rice and spices and cook until the rice is translucent and the oil is absorbed. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
Place the seafood and sausage in the pan and then the peas. Cover with aluminum foil and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes over low to medium low heat. When most of the liquid has been absorbed, the rice is tender, the shrimp is pink and the clams and mussels have opened, it’s ready to serve.