Paella is a Spanish dish made with rice, and a variety of meat (chicken or rabbit), seafood (shrimp, mussels or a firm fish like cod), and spicy sausage like andouille or chorizo. It also includes vegetables like green beans or peas and spices like paprika and saffron. This dish allows for countless variations. The rice is supposed to be cooked in such a way that it crisps up on the bottom and edges. It’s frequently prepared over an open fire or a very high burner. Every summer we attend a music festival in northern lower Michigan where huge iron paella pans are set over an open flame and enough paella is being prepared to feed dozens and dozens. It’s almost as much fun watching them make it as it is eating it. They make a vegetarian Paella as well making them a very popular stop. Paella cooked in this fashion allows for nicely crisped rice. Personally, I prefer my rice without the crisp so that’s the way I prepare it.
This post, however, is as much about my new pan as it is about the paella. Interestingly, the word “paella” derives from the Old French word paella for pan which in turn comes from the Latin word patella for pan. (I didn’t happen to know that off the top of my head but I do know how to access all things Wikipedia.) I frequently stop and browse in shops that sell Le Creuset cookware. Le Creuset is a French company that makes enameled cast iron cookware. I have several knock-off enameled cast iron pieces which I use all the time but have never purchased a Le Creuset. Until now. I am still excited! My husband gifted it to me so I promised to, appropriately, make paella my first dish in this beautiful 5 quart Braiser aka Paella or Patella.
A thing of beauty, no?!
This recipe makes a generous amount. Although the leftovers were great I probably will not make this again until we have guests.
1 cup chopped fresh parsley and cilantro
2 or 3 large cloves of garlic minced
juice of one lemon
1 T olive oil
1 cup water
1 tsp saffron threads
5 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound unpeeled jumbo shrimp
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 links andouille sausage
3-4 slices of thick bacon cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups finely chopped onion
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup canned diced tomatoes undrained
1 tsp sweet paprika
3-4 cloves of garlic whole
3 cups Arborio rice
1 cup frozen peas
1 lemon juiced
Combine the first 4 ingredients and set aside. Combine the water, broth and saffron in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Do not boil. Keep warm over low heat.
Heat 1 T of olive oil in large heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken pieces and saute 2-3 minutes per side. Remove them from the skillet and set aside. Add the sausage and bacon to the skillet and saute 3-4 minutes. Remove them from the skillet.
Reduce the heat to medium low and add the onion and bell pepper. Saute for approximately 15 minutes stirring occasionally.
Add the tomatoes, paprika and garlic and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add the rice and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly. Stir in the herb blend and the peas.
Add the broth mixture, chicken, and sausage mixture and bring to a low boil. Cook 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
Once the meat is added this 5 quart pan is VERY full. Be careful.
Add the shrimp and cook 5 more minutes. Most of the liquid should be absorbed. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with the juice from one lemon, cover, and allow the paella to sit for 10 minutes. If your skillet doesn’t have a lid cover the paella with a clean dish towel.
Serve with lemon wedges.
NOTE: Like I mentioned earlier, this recipe is perfect for modifying based on personal tastes. I would love to use mussels but availability is an issue. I may try this next with strictly seafood and substitute seafood broth for the chicken broth. My husband likes foods kicked up and he added hot sauce to his.