Monday, December 26, 2011

Paella for Christmas

The Farmboy and I have watched and re-watched this segment of a Rick Steves' Europe episode many times (start at 2:19). 

I decided to surprise him with an 18 inch Paella pan for Christmas, complete with all the ingredients and a bag of briquettes so that we could cook it on our charcoal grill.

So excited about my plan, Paella was certainly on my brain. Which, along with the depth of understanding that comes from 12 years of being happily married, it only took a couple of hints for me to realize that he was also planning to get a Paella pan for ME for Christmas.

Sadly, I had to let the cat out of the bag in advance, or else one of us would have had to deal with shipping a giant pan back to its place of origin.

He was still rather excited, and started our very first batch yesterday evening. There are a bajillion recipes out in cyber space. We took them as suggestions, and created our own version.

First, we got a big pile of coals really hot. We put our Paella pan on the grill. Once it was hot, we added some olive oil and 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenders.
The chicken was browned on both sides, then a little more oil was added, along with a pile of chopped fresh veggies (one large sweet onion, two red peppers, one green pepper, and about a cup of halved cherry tomatoes).
We let the veggies cook until they were soft, then added a very large pinch of saffron, salt and pepper, and 2 1/2 cups of brown rice. We stirred the rice and seasoning just until it was all moist, then added 5 cups of vegetable broth, which had been brought to a boil on the stove.
At this point, we let the Paella simmer away for 8-10 minutes at a time, adding more hot broth whenever the liquids had evaporated away or been absorbed. All told, we added another 2 cartons (32 oz.) of broth, and then, since I had no more broth, about 4 more cups of boiling water at the end, and it took about 50 minutes for the rice to be ready.
When we thought there was about 5 minutes left for the rice, we threw in 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp.
Amazingly yummy, but we will tweak the ingredients next time. Because that's what we do.

More chicken? More saffron? Less pepper? Chicken broth instead of Vegetable? Add pumpkin or Butternut Squash? I'll let you know.

This dish can be intimidating, since it is traditionally made in such large batches, but don't be afraid to try it. I found many recipes online that tell you how to make it on your stovetop in a regular pan. If we have inspired you to give Paella a try, be sure to let me know!


Heather said...

I've always wanted to make it, now it doesn't seem quite so daunting of a task. Thanks for sharing.

Maggee said...

I have seen it cooked and with clams on top!! It is quite a project for sure! Great pictures! Hugs!

Sharon said...

ok, I'm inspired. I thought before it was fish recipe which held no interest to me. It looks like a tone of work. Is cooking it over coals how have you tweaked it now that you have tried it a few times.

Sharon - the little red head girl