Rising temperatures and backyard parties means – it’s paella time!
So often in the States we think of paella as a gourmet dish meant to be eaten on special occasions or when fine dining. In reality, a paella in Spain is a casual meal eaten outdoors, served at summer festivals and enjoyed as simple midweek meals.
The paella originated in the countryside of Valencia, España, where rice fields were (and are) in abundance. Local farmers and peasants raised chickens, rabbits and collected snails.
After making a rich and nourishing broth, the rice and local meat were combined creating the first paella cooked over an open fire.
This simple peasant’s dish has since influenced the entire world and is now made in many different variations.
A real and traditional paella is made using only a few seasonal ingredients and meant to highlight the rice. The rice is really what makes a paella.
As long as you have a good quality rice and a few other ingredients, you’ll be on your way to an amazing rice dish.
Recipe: Simple Spanish Paella with Chicken and Roasted Red Peppers
This is a traditional Valenciana paella made in a simple modern way. Started on the stove top and finished in the oven. It’s a breeze to make and as long as you have a few good quality ingredients, you can’t go wrong.
You can whip this up in about 30 minutes and serve it to guests on your patio with a cold gazpacho and chilled sangria. The presentation is stunning and the flavors meld beautifully.
Since many don’t have a paella pan, you can make this in a shallow stainless steel pan. Avoid using cast iron as it retains too much heat.
The essential ingredients:
- Short Grain Rice. I use a Spanish Calasparro rice, however, an Italian Arborio can be substituted.
- Pastured, free range chicken.
- Good quality chicken broth, preferably homemade.
- Saffron, for color. If you don’t have it… skip it!
These ingredients will make or break your paella!
It’s essential to have all of your ingredients prepped ahead of time. This will ensure a quick and easy meal.
- 2 cups short grain white rice: Spanish Calasparro or Italian Arborio
- 4 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
- 1 whole chicken, cut into sections
- 10-15 saffron threads
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 large ripe tomato, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed or diced
- Roasted red peppers, sliced, to garnish on top
- Extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F.
2. In a large skillet (cast iron will do here), heat a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and brown the chicken on both sides. 6-8 minutes per side. Set aside.
3. While the chicken is frying, bring the chicken broth to a simmer and add the saffron. This will release the color of the saffron to the stock. Keep it at a simmer until ready to pour over the rice.
Every paella starts with a “sofrito”, which is a saute of peppers, onions and garlic fried in a tomato sauce.
4. In a paella or stainless steel pan, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Add the onion and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the green peppers and garlic and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomato and simmer until the juices have reduced.
5. Add the rice and saute for an additional 4-5 minutes.
6. Add one cup of broth at a time, stirring to mix and distribute the ingredients evenly. Add enough broth to cover the rice by 1/4″.
7. Bring to a boil, add salt and pepper to taste and again make sure to distribute the rice evenly in the pan. That’s it… Do NOT stir the rice again.
8. Place the chicken on top of the rice and add the roasted red peppers as well.
9. Bake in the oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until the rice has absorbed the broth.
10. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes.
The paella can be served directly from the pan.
Tell me, have you ever made or eaten a paella? Did you like it? What are your favorite meats or seafood to include?