Paella

There was a Cuban restaurant in California that my husband and I ate at once, and we were so tempted to get the Paella dish— but we got something else. Recently, I branched out and tried this Spanish dish. I served it with empanadas, which I would have posted, but I still need to perfect the dough. Making this Paella dish ended up being quite simple!

Herb Blend

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 large garlic cloves, minced

Paella

1 cup water

1 teaspoon saffron threads

3 (16-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

8 unpeeled jumbo shrimp (about 1/2 pound)

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 skinned, boned chicken thighs, cut in half

2 links Spanish chorizo sausage (about 6 1/2 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1 (4-ounce) slice prosciutto, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups finely chopped onion

1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper

1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

3 large garlic cloves, minced

3 cups uncooked Arborio rice or other short-grain rice

1 cup frozen green peas

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

The first step is to prepare the herb blend in a small bowl. Combine all the ingredients and set aside. 

Paella is usually cooked in a large skillet, but I used my largest one and it was still not big enough. My food came up to the rim, which meant that I couldn’t even stir without spilling it all over my stove top. I recommend making it all in one big pot. 

For the paella, combine the water, saffron threads, and broth in the small pot and bring to a simmer (not a boil). Keep warm as you prepare the other paella ingredients. This is a separate mixture from the main paella dish, so a small pot is just fine. I ended up doing half beef broth and half chicken broth because that was all I had in my pantry. I could not tell too much of a difference by having a combination of the two.

I used frozen, cooked shrimp to make it easier on myself. Thaw the shrimp as you prepare the other meat ingredients.

In a large pot, heat 1T of oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs that were cut in half. Sauté the chicken about 2 minutes on each side. Set aside on a plate. The chicken ends up cooking more later on. Add the chorizo sausage and prosciutto, and sauté for 2 minutes. Remove and add to plate with chicken. Add shrimp and sauté for 2 minutes. If using cooked shrimp, be careful to not overcook them. You can put them on the plate with the cooked meat, but the shrimp will be added back into the paella mixture at a different time. 

Reduce the heat to medium-low. Sauté the onion and bell pepper for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the tomatoes, paprika and minced garlic. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook for 1 minute while stirring constantly. Add the herb mixture, broth mixture, chicken, sausage, prosciutto, and peas. Bring to a low boil and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the shrimp with the tails in the air into the rice mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked. If using cooked shrimp, just use this time to make sure everything is heated thru all the way. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup lemon juice. Remove from heat, cover with a towel, and let stand for 10 minutes. It is cool to see how the liquid just disappears into the rice by the end. 

Making this paella dish was so different from my normal routine. I always like to widen my repertoire of cooking and trying something new. Enjoy!