This week, we’re going to travel through food.
Before the pandemic, Brian and I talked about spending an extended period of time in another country and Spain floated to the top of the list. But then the pandemic shut down travel, so instead of getting on an airplane, we headed to the kitchen. There, we got to experience Spain in a different way by making their most famous dish: Paella.
Not only is Paella delicious, it is beautiful. We sourced the ingredients from two importers of Spanish foods, including an American who received the Cross of the Order of Civil Merit from Spain’s King Juan Carlos I.
What is Paella?
Technically, Paella is the name of the pan, but over time the name became attached to the rice dish. Paella can be seafood-based or earth-based. Different vegetables can be used. But one thing is always the same. The key ingredient:
If you’ve bought saffron, you know how pricey it is. Because we don’t use saffron a lot, it gets wasted, so instead of investing in a jar for one recipe, we opted for a highly-rated Barcelona-made Paella Base that already has the saffron in it. One box=one pan of Paella so no waste! This all-natural broth does have some, well… not so common ingredients like rabbit and snail. But don’t get scared! It was incredibly delicious. I mean, really really good. Plus it makes Paella making easy.
Since Paella originated in Valencia, we decided to loosely base ours on a traditional recipe which has chicken, rabbit, and snails. While we did use chicken (a breast cut from one of our Mary’s Organic Whole Chickens) we did NOT add in additional slugs and bunnies (other than what’s in the stock). We used instead a dry Spanish Chorizo (different than Mexican chorizo). For the veggies, the recipe called for three bean types, we used two: green beans and our Adobe Milling Bolita Beans, a bean that really picks up the flavor of whatever you’re cooking.
We say it all the time, but don’t be afraid to modify! Use what you have available, and make recipes your own.
Here’s what we did:
- Olive Oil
- Large Organic Chicken Breast, cubed
- Half of a sweet onion, diced
- Two cloves of garlic, minced
- Half a 14-oz can of organic Bello Tomatoes (or two fresh Roma tomatoes)
- Green Beans
- Adobe Milling Bolita Beans (soaked and cooked the day before)
- Dry Spanish Chorizo, sliced
- 1 1/2 cups special Matiz short-grained Paella Rice
- 1 Box of Aneto Paella Base
- Sprig of Rosemary
Heat the olive oil in a Paella or other flat-bottomed pan and brown the cubed chicken. Push aside once browned. Add the onion and caramelize. Push aside. Add both types of beans and get them toasty. Push aside. Add the chorizo and let it cook a minute and then, yep, push aside. Next add the tomatoes and garlic. By now the sides of your pan will be full of good stuff! Time to stir it together and evenly distribute around the pan.
Sprinkle the special short-grained Paella rice over the whole thing and stir to incorporate, then get everything arranged in the pan the way you want. Shake the Aneto Paella Base and then pour the entire box evenly in the pan, float a sprig of rosemary and WALK AWAY.
Do not stir!
Let this cook for 10 minutes on a medium high heat, then lower the heat for another 10 minutes, rotating the pan occasionally on the burner to get even cooking. You want all the liquid to cook out. At the end, crank the heat up to get the much desired socarrat which is the crunchy caramelization on the bottom of the pan—the best part!
Place the pan on the table to share with your pals, because really… a dish this lovely needs to be shared. Many thanks to John and Joan for being our MPM Test Kitchen Paella guinea pigs!
MPM Shopping List:
- Paella Pan Made in Spain
- Mariella Olive Oil
- Mary’s Organic Chicken
- Palacios Chorizo
- Adobe Milling Bolita Beans
- Bello Organic Tomatoes
- Matiz Paella Rice
- Aneto Paella Base