Paella

By Shane Pausits, University of Michigan

“Paella is the most iconic Spanish dish. What pizza and pasta are to the Italians is what paella is to the Spanish. I love paella. It’s a real family dish and defines where I come from.” – Miguel Maestre

According to some history of the pallea, most etymologists agree it was created in the Spanish city of Valencia and is combination of two cultures: the Romans, for the pan, and the Arabs, for the rice. Paella is prepared by simmering chicken or seafood with rice, vegetables, and the ever important spice saffron along with other seasonings. While those with Spanish ancestry will have different versions of the dish, here’s how I made mine.

So here’s what you’ll need:

  • 500g marinara mix (mussels, fish, calamari, prawns, scallops)
  • Splash of extra virgin olive oil
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 220g Bomba rice
  • 50g fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve
  • ½ bunch chives, garnish
  • Aioli and Sangria, to serve

For the sofrito

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 6 piquillo peppers
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • 1 bunch chives
  • 25ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika

To make the sofrito, place all the sofrito ingredients in a food processor and process until chunky. If you don’t have a food processor, roughly chop the tomatoes and piquillo peppers and finely chop the garlic, parsley and chives then combine with other sofrito ingredients in a mixing bowl. This will take a little longer, but you can make some time out of it if cooking with others. Additionally, it will allow time for the pan to heat.

Next, use a 30-centimetre-wide (small or medium) paella pan over a high heat. Add the marinara mix with a healthy amount of olive oil and cook for about a minute. Add the sofrito and cook for another three minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to the boil. Stir in rice and bring to a simmer on medium to low heat for 15 minutes until stock has absorbed.

At this point, you’ll know you’re doing it correctly because after 2 minutes in your pan you will find the “soccarrada” (crust on the bottom of the pan). Then, season to taste with salt and squeeze lemon juice over the dish before serving.

Badda-Bing, Badda-Boom. Ole! good eating, mis amigos.