TRADITIONAL SPANISH PAELLA
written by @juliarecipes
We will be travelling to Spain with this Paella recipe. No, I haven’t been in Spain yet! And yes, I would love to go and see this beautiful piece of land, this wonderful and colorful culture, that Spain has to offer. One of the most colorful and traditional dishes in Spain is Paella Valenciana or you might have heard just PAELLA.
I have been asking myself, why I haven’t been making this traditional Spanish dish more often. It is the simplest and flavorful dish you can find in any food culture. Paella can offer flavor of sea, land and hearty vegetables. It is bursting in flavor and that is why I love this colorful dish so much.
Do not feel intimidated by many ingredients, what am I going to use for this traditional Spanish Paella. Because paella is very versatile, you can go with any kind of meat, seafood or vegetable, it is not necessary, to go with all the kinds of meats or sausages I have been using in this recipe. You can choose only one sort of meat or only one sort of seafood.
Meat or seafood used in PAELLA
- boneless chicken thighs
- merguez sausages (red spicy sausage)
It might be overwhelming, while reading all these ingredients, but I love the mix with all; seafood, chicken and sausage. It gives unforgettable and bursting flavor to the rice, that I always mix all these meats and seafood together.
Herbs used in PAELLA
- saffron powder
- fresh parsley
- smoked sweet paprika (optional)
Herbs are super important in this traditional Spanish dish. Saffron is the main spice to use, when making Paella. Saffron is the most expensive spice on Earth and is the red-yellow stigma of the crocus flower and must be hand-picked during short annual flowering seasons. Each flower produces only three stigmas, so it takes approximately 150 flowers to yield just one gram of dry saffron. I use it in powder form.
I always start paella with browning my vegetables on a large skillet (you can also use special Paella pan). I use medium size onion very finely chopped, together with garlic. These are two first ingredients I brown on vegetable oil. Do not use olive oil, because we will be saute the meat and olive oil is not recommended.
Vegetables used in Paella
- red bell pepper
- frozen peas
- frozen corn
- diced tomatoes (optional)
Diced tomatoes are optional, I haven’t used them in this recipe, because I find it makes the rice more acid. If you do not mind having paella little acid, then go ahead and use them, I will mention it below in the Ingredients list, that it is optional to use diced tomatoes.
While all the vegetables are browning on the skillet, I push them a bit on the side and start to saute chicken thighs and sausages in the same skillet. When the chicken thighs and sausages are saute, I remove them from the skillet and add spices, seasoning and chicken stock.
No panic, for paella you can use any kind of white rice (better short-grain rice). In most recipes, they will recommend Arborio rice, which is most common to use for risotto, because it creates smooth texture. But by adding a bit more of chicken stock, it will create the same smooth texture as well. Important, we do not stir or touch the rice, once in skillet cooking.
Which brings me the chicken stock, now you will be adding chicken stock in the skillet, stir and add washed rice and stir well again. Here is the moment, where you can add diced tomatoes as well. All this is happening on medium heat, so it will bubble lightly. Once you rice is well stirred with all the blend of herbs, you need to add all the meats and seafood and cook on medium low for about 15 minutes.
At the end I even cover it with lid (optional), this is going to keep the moisture inside and the rice will be juicy inside, but lightly crusty on the bottom. I let it covered for another 5 minutes. At this point you have to check for the mussels (if you have used some) if they opened, if some of them didn’t open, you have to discard those immediately. Garnish with fresh parsley, lemon wedges and sprinkle with half of a lemon. You serve Paella immediately while hot!
TRADITIONAL SPANISH PAELLA
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 medium finely chopped onion
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 6 boneless chicken thighs
- 4 mergues sausages or chorizo sausages
- 1 tsp saffron in powder
- salt & pepper
- 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 4 cups uncooked short-grain rice
- 1 cup diced tomatoes (optional)
- 1 cup small scallops
- 8 unpeeled jumbo shrimp
- 12 mussels, scrubbed and cleaned (unopened)
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- Lemon wedges (optional)
- Heat 1 tbs of vegetable oil in large skillet or large paella pan over medium-high heat.
- Add finely chopped onion and garlic and saute for 2 minutes on medium-high heat.
- Add red bell peppers and parsley, saute on medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper; add as well saffron and smoked paprika. Stir occasionally.
- Move the vegetables on the side of a skillet.
- Take chicken thighs and season them with salt and pepper. Start to saute them and mergues sausages as well; on the skillet; approximately 2 minutes each side.
- Set the chicken thighs & mergues sausages aside and add chicken stock to the skillet.
- Add washed rice, stir well and let bring it to the gentle boil. (Optional; now you can add diced tomatoes).
- Now lay the chicken thighs, mergues saussages, shrimps, scalops and mussels on the rice (you can push the meat inside the rice) and let cook on medium low for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes check if all mussels have opened, those mussels, which didn’t open, discard immediately.
- Add frozen corn and green peas on the top of the rice, remove from the heat and cover with lid (or aluminum paper) for another 5-10 minutes.
- Decorate with freshly chopped parsley and wedges of lemon (optional). Sprinkle with lemon juice.
- Serve hot!
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