Vicky’s Paella Recipe
For the recent Mother’s Day Sunday, rather than be pampered with MY cooking or a meal out, my wife,Vicky, was excited about doing her own paella, a classic Spanish dish from Valencia. I have fond memories of spending Sunday afternoons at a good friend’s home in Argentina eating paella and drinking good wine. I think that was a bit of Vicky’s motivation as well…No, it is NOT really a typical Argentine dish – our friend’s were Puertoricans living in Argentina who had also lived for many years in Spain. Luis had a nifty set up – a large, wide paellera (specific paella pan) that sat atop a special stand with a propane hookup. It was quite a rig because most paelleras are too big for proper cooking on a stovetop – plus – it allows you to cook outside; Luis had it next to his grill which we grilled chorizos and morcillas (blood sausage) as appetizers while waiting for the paella to cook. We also discovered many great Argentine wines on those Sunday afternoons…
“Paella” is the basic Valencian word for “pan” from similar Latin and Old French versions – though Vicky also tells me that perhaps it is a contraction of “para ella” (for her) or, “paella”. This, she felt, made it the perfect Mother’s Day dish. I suspect this may be the Puertorican addition to the history…
Paella is a dish that is hard to screw up. Like a good soup, there are no hard rules. The basic seasoning is key here. And don’t scrimp on the saffron. Everything else happily falls into place. Put in things you like, omit things you don’t like. Vicky has a shellfish allergy so, the things I like – mussels, clams, shrimp, squid, and lobster are omitted. Fresh white fish is also a tasty ingredient which can be added. In Spain, rabbit is also a common ingredient.
Here is Vicky’s crowd friendly version:
Paella Recipe – Chicken, Pork and Fresh Sausages
For 8-10 people
- 2 boneless chicken breasts (they can be with skin)
- 3 boneless pork chops
- 1 string of fresh Italian sausage (the long string or 3 short strings, spicy or mild)
- 4 cups of long grain white rice or short grain white rice. The short grain is the one typically used – you need to pre-wash this kind of rice and it will use a little less liquid to cook.
- For long grain rice – 7 cups of chicken stock
- For short grain rice – 6 cups of chicken stock
- Generous pinch of saffron or get Condimix powder packets of Sason with Saffron – use 2-3 little packets of those.
- Olives with pimento – what is labeled “Salad olives” in Publix – use around half cup
- 1 cup of petit pois or sweet peas to garnish – frozen and thawed or a can without the liquid.
- Red Pimentos/Pimentos morrones cut length wise to garnish – they come in a jar.
- Lemon wedges to garnish
- Large paella pan or Paellera, or a large wide shallow skillet
For the Sofrito
- 2 cubanelle peppers
- 1 yellow onion
- a bunch of cilantro leaves
- 4-5 garlic heads smashed
- olive oil
- red peppers in liquid (pimientos morrones)
- 1 can tomato sauce or 1 can of whole tomatoes hand-crushed.
Cut everything in small pieces and mix.
Seasoning for chicken and pork chops
- Adobo Goya (with or without pepper) and olive oil – or make your own mix of paprika, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder and olive oil.
Rub the meat and let it absorb the seasoning for around 30 minutes in the refridgerator.
Heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the Italian sausage whole. When browned, take it out and let it stand. After it cools cut into bite-size slices, Set it aside.
Sauté the chicken and pork chops – in bite-size pieces. When golden, remove from pan and set aside. Don’t over cook the chicken and pork because they will get dry and tough.
In the same pan, add the Sofrito mix. Sauté for around 3 minutes. Then add tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes. Let it simmer for a few minutes.
Next add the rice and mix it all together until the rice is all covered with the sofrito and sauce mixture.
Pour in the chicken stock and stir the rice with the chicken stock. Add the saffron and/or the Sason packets. Stir. Let it simmer for around 10 minutes.
Then add the chicken, sausage and pork and push/tuck the pieces in the rice mixture.
Let it simmer until the rice is done al dente. I covered the paella after most of the liquid was absorbed and let it sit there until the rice was done.
You should have a rice crust at the bottom of the pan – that is called “socarrat” or “pegao” in Puertorican terms. Many people prefer this crunchier part of the rice. It is a matter of taste. Don’t be worried about making a cleaning mess – you can later add water to the pan, bring it to a boil and scrape bits of rice with a wooden utensil to clean the pan.
Garnish the paella with peas and the slices of red pimentos/pimentos morrones. Add lemon wedges too.
Side dishes – a fresh salad and ripe plantains fried. To make life easier, get the Goya frozen ripe plantains.
For a wine selection, paella is pretty versatile. Choose a white or a red. You might consider a fuller white or a lighter red. Since it is a Spanish dish, a Tempranillo or Grenache from the Rioja might be a good choice. You might also consider a Cru Beaujolais or a nice Pinot Noir.
If you prepare your paella with a lot of seafood, you might steer away from reds; sometimes there is a “tinny” taste when served with seafood. Again it is a matter of choice – some people don’t mind this and love red wine with seafood. As for white wines, try to avoid lighter whites such as Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio as these wines will get lost with the full flavor of the paella. Go towards Chardonnay but avoid heavy, full flavored, oaky ones. A nice Viognier is a good match. A dry rosé is also a great, refreshing choice.
There is also the idea of a homemade Sangria which can be fun & festive – and of course, Champagne or a Spanish Cava can match with just about any dish.
Don’t forget a fresh baguette and butter.
Serve and enjoy! Buen provecho!