Prepared with rice, peppers, onions, tomatoes and saffron, Paella is meal for those who enjoy spicy flavorful food and originally comes from southern Spain. This once humble dish reputed to have been the meal made by vineyard workers over an open fire is often served with spicy cured chorizo sausage and seafood. Authentic Paella is made from a special strain of medium grain rice called Bomba rice or Calasparra rice from Murcia Spain. In this recipe I use Arborio rice since it is easier to find.
Paella which is traditionally made in a special pie shaped shallow pan called a Paella pan can also be prepared in a large pot and then garnished with cooked sea food and served as a plated dish. Two of the special seasonings that create the best Paella are smoked paprika known as Pimenton and the stigmas of the Crocus flower more commonly known as Saffron. The dried cured salami style of Chorizo sausage is used to give the finished rice dish its complex flavor profile. Lastly, as in all rice dishes, the quality of the broth is important. The best, of course, is made with stock prepared from scratch; however there are some good quality bases or canned broths available as well.
The most famous authentic Paella comes from Valencia; however, it is said that Paella originally came from La Albufera Spain. Paella in its traditional form cooked and served in the traditional Paella pans yields an impressive presentation.
Many chefs like to create new ways of presenting traditional dishes and in that context I offer an idea for deconstructed style of Paella. At the National American Culinary Federation Convention held in Las Vegas a couple of years ago I prepared this dish at a presentation simultaneous and in unison with Chef Gui Alinat. Chef Alinat prepared his version of the original dish at the other end of the stage. In my deconstructed version I prepared the paella by making a pan fried croquette out of it; then I topped it with a rabbit sausage and presented it with Shrimp, and pea puree on a light tomato sauce, garnished with fried sage and slow cooked tomato confit. This version represents all of the flavors served in an artful manner.
This deconstructed style of Paella is most likely too complicated to prepare at home. The base recipe outlined below can easily be prepared and served in presentation like that shown in the photo in the opening image of this post.
Sea Food Paella
By Chef Daniel Pliska CEC AAC
Yield 5 pounds or 10 portions
1 1/4 lbs Dry cured Chorizo (Volipi) small diced
12 ounces Shell fish, chopped (Shrimp, clams, mussels or scallops)
2 tablespoons Olive oil for browning the seafood
3/4 cup Onions fine diced
1 cup Red bell peppers fine diced
¼ cup Fennel fine diced
1/2 cup Celery fine diced
1 Tablespoon Garlic minced
3 cups Arborio, Bomba or other short grain rice
2 cups Tomatoes skinned, seeded and chopped fine
1 1/4 quarts Shrimp, Crab, or Chicken stock
¼ cup Tomato paste
2 tablespoons Smoked or Spanish paprika
3 each Bay leaves
¼ teaspoon Chili flakes
1/4 tsp Saffron steeped in 1/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup Parsley chopped
1/4 cup Basil chopped
As needed Cooked -Jumbo Shrimp, Steamed Clams, Scallops, Mussels, Lobster tail (or combination of sea food)
- In a heavy bottom braising pan brown the Chorizo in olive oil,
- Remove from the pan and add the onion, peppers, fennel, celery, garlic, paprika and chili flakes. When the vegetables are tender add the rice and brown,
- Add the stock, saffron and wine essence, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and bay leaves,
- Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer stir in the chopped sea food and cover,
- Cook for 30 to 40 minutes in a 350F oven until all of the liquid has been absorbed,
- Remove from the oven fluff with cork and remove bay leaves,
- Garnish with the parsley, and basil and serve with cooked sea food or cool and reheat to order with cooked sea seafood.