Paella is a traditional Spanish dish that has many, many interpretations, and what defines an “AUTHENTIC” Paella is hotly contested. Pride over the perfectly balanced culinary masterpiece that is the Spanish Paella has led to the rather unpleasant snub of calling anything that they don’t consider true Paella as simply “rice with some other stuff.” This level of gastronomical aggression might suggest that the answer would be to simply follow the universal recipe that exists for the classic, real Paella- only, you guessed it, there is none. Even Valencia, often regarded as the home of our dish, has hundreds of versions. This situation had become so distressing to Paella Purists that they have actually established a website and network so that they could define, find, and refine the perfect Paella. What is most interesting about all of this discourse and competitiveness is that Paella, like Pizza, most likely started out as a peasant’s food that simply the humble resources of whatever ingredients were available and in season for them. While various message boards and recipe websites like to prescribe hard and fast rules on what absolutely IS and IS NOT in a classic paella, it’s highly unlikely the first creator of the dish even made it the same every time they prepared it. Rather than become fixated on questions such as “Shrimp or no Shrimp?” or “Where do I find snails in the middle of March??” ask yourself what speaks to YOU about what a paella should have- whether that means rabbit, or mushrooms, or maybe even an entirely vegetarian version instead.
When discussing Umami, usually the first thing that comes to mind are ingredients that are related to Asian cuisine (soy sauce, miso, fish sauce, etc.) since that’s where the concept is consciously articulated when describing is food- but tomatoes are another way to add savory, umami flavors. These rich notes are enhanced when we contrast them with the brighter and fresher elements of our dish, such as peas and fresh lemon wedges. In the same vein, our Paella Seasoning and Saffron helped to further flesh out new flavors that complement our dish: Saffron is fragrant and floral like our rosemary, paprika is vibrant like our tomatoes, and garlic because, well… garlic.
In case you were expecting us to also include our personal manifesto about everything that a paella should be, here are our beliefs:
YES, Paella is a magnificent one-pot dish that promises every bite to be unique, delicious, and interesting.
YES Paella has golden, flavorful rice that simultaneously absorbs all of the other flavors, but also serves as a perfect canvas to highlight all of the other ingredients.
And finally YES, you too should make Paella!!
- 10-15 Threads of Saffron
- ¼ Cup Hot water
- 2 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Lb. Boneless skinless chicken breast, or thighs cut into bite sized pieces
- ½ Lb. Spanish chorizo, cut into bite sized pieces
- 3 Bay Leaves
- 2 Tbsp Paella Seasoning
- 1 Cup Diced tomatoes
- 1 Medium Sweet onion, diced
- 4 Cups Low sodium chicken stock or broth
- 2 Cups Short grain rice
- 1 Can White beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 Cup Frozen peas or green beans
- 1 Can Artichoke hearts in water
- 1 tsp Rosemary
- 1 Lemon, sliced thin
- In a small bowl, crush the saffron threads and pour ¼ Cup hot water. Steep for 15 minutes.
- In a large flat skillet, heat olive oil to medium-high and add chicken.
- After 4-5 minutes, add chorizo and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes.
- Add Paella Seasoning, Bay leaves, tomatoes, and onions to the pan and cook until the onions soften.
- Add the saffron, water, and chicken stock, and rice and bring to a boil.
- Add white beans, peas, artichokes, and rosemary. Reduce heat and cook until rice has absorbed the liquid, around 5-10 minutes.
- Remove pan from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes.
- Fluff rice with fork, add lemon slices and serve.