Paella has long been a favourite dish of mine. The first time Shawn had paella (and sangria for that matter) was at a restaurant called Cafe Ba Ba Reeba in Las Vegas about 2 years ago. He loves it so much that when we were watching Simply Delicioso last weekend and Ingrid Hoffman was twirling around making Paella, Shawn kept poking me in the leg and looking at me with puppy dog eyes.
Like Sangria, there are many many different variations of paella that can be made. This easy seafood one has only prawns and scallops. Many traditional ones include chicken thighs, mussels and clams and take a few hours to cook, but this one is done in about an hour or so.
We used a large saute pan with a tight fitting lid, rather than a paella pan with aluminum foil. A paella pan is one of those wish items that I always hope for, but at $150 a pan unless I win the lottery I'll keep dreaming for a bit. (Mom, use the saute pan I bought you a few years ago for xmas).
We did use chorizo sausage (Costco carries a really nice red wine chorizo), but if you can't find it, use spicy italian sausage (or mild if you prefer less heat).
As lately I've been making a lot of asian food and risotto, all I had in the house was arborio rice and basmati rice. Paella should be made with long grain rice (it soaks up the oils) and I of course, forgot to buy it. Shawn ran to the store and returned just at the point when I had to put it in the pot.
Many of the reviews said that 6 cups of broth was too much and the paella turned out mushy. The key is to add the liquid 1 ladle at a time until it's all mostly absorbed (takes about 10 minutes), then turn the heat down a bit and let it simmer for the rest of the 25 minutes until the rice is cooked through (test it as it'll be different for everyone).
And finally, to avoid the teasing from the husband and the look of dread from the neighbor's daughter - peel the shrimp! I was drinking sangria and cooking and thought I had bought prawns with just the tails on, but they still had the whole shell. Not a big deal - your fingers get a bit messy when you are eating.
Saffron - this spice is a must - you CANNOT substitute it with anything else. It's from the dried up inside pieces of a specific type of crocus. Ounce per ounce, this spice is more expensive than gold. 1 teaspoon will run you about $15 - $24, so a recipe that isn't made every week. But the flavour and colour is amazing.
As far as easy/quick paella's go, this one was great! I am dreaming of going to Spain and doing nothing but eating paella, drinking sangria and taking siestas ;)
Shrimp and Scallop Easy Paella - adapted from Ingrid Hoffman's Simply Delicioso
6 cups chicken stock
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red pepper, seeded, ribbed and thinly sliced
1 green pepper, seeded, ribbed and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Spanish saffron, pistils only
4 links Spanish dry-cured chorizo (about 6 ounces), sliced
1 1/2 cups white rice
1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with chiles
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 pounds raw, peeled large shrimp
1 pound sea scallops
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup chopped Italian parsley leaves
Lemon wedges, for decoration
In a medium saucepan, heat the chicken stock until boiling.
In a separate large saucepan or paella pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil and add the onion, the garlic, the peppers, the saffron and the chorizo. Cook for 6 minutes or until vegetables are soft and chorizo is browned.
Stir in the rice, tomatoes and tomato paste until well mixed and cook for 5 minutes. Add the boiling chicken stock little by little, stirring each addition constantly until the stock is almost absorbed.
Cover the paella pan with aluminum foil, and cook for 25 minutes, until rice is tender. Add the shrimp and the scallops and let cook covered for 5 to 7 minutes more.
Decorate with the chopped parsley and lemon wedges