When I lived in Granada, Spain, paella lunch was my favorite day of the week. The lady I lived with had been making paella with a recipe that had been passed down generation after generation. It had a rigid set of rules, and while it was amazingly delicious, I like the flexibility of the loose recipe I've been using since I learned how to make this from the Senora so many years ago.
The lady never made hers with seafood, so my recipe follows suit. I usually use a combination of either Spanish style chorizo, or Portuguese linguica if I can find it, and chicken thighs. I've also made a delicious meatless version with a ton seasonal veggies (this one features zucchini and tomatoes because I wrote it in summer, but a winter version would have a hearty winter green and winter squash, or beets and rutabagas).
If you like paella, do yourself a favor and get a paella pan. My husband got me one for our first anniversary, and I have rewarded him with paella at least once a month ever since.
- 1 lb smoked sausage (chorizo, linguica, andouille, etc), cut into half-moons
- 1 lb chicken thighs, trimmed and diced
- 1 medium onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1/4 tsp chili flakes (optional)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1.25 cups Arborio rice
- 1/3 cup lager beer, or white wine
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 tsp saffron
- 1 cup fresh tomatoes, or 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 small zucchini, thinly sliced into half moons
- Fresh parsley, chopped
- Fresh lemon juice
- In a very lightly oiled saute pan, or paella pan, cook sausage and remove.
- Cook chicken and remove.
- If there is an excess of fat, remove all except 2 TB. If there is not enough fat, add olive oil until there is about 2 TB total oil in the pan.
- Sautee onion with salt & pepper until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and paprika and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- If you like spicy food, add chile flakes at this step.
- Add rice and toast until well coated with the fat, about 1 minute.
- Add meats back in and stir to combine.
- Deglaze with beer (or wine if you prefer), using a spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add broth, saffron, and tomatoes (if using canned, discard liquid).
- Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil,
- Simmer about 15 minutes covered.
- Scatter the zucchini slices over the top and tuck them in with a spoon. Cover and cook 5 additional minutes.
- You want to take the cover off when almost all the liquid has been absorbed; you should see some light bubling in the corners, but the dish shouldn't look wet anymore.
- Remove the cover and crank the heat to high. The goal here is to burn the bottom (yes, you read that right). You will see the steam turn from white to a dark grey, and you will smell the rice burning.
- Kill the heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes (the longest 5 minutes, but this helps the burnt bottom release).
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley and squeeze fresh lemon juice over the top.
- Using a spatula, cut the paella into quarters and scoop from the bottom, flipping the spatula over if necessary, to make sure you get some deliciously burnt rice bits with every serving.