If asked to name a traditional Spanish dish, most Americans will think of seafood paella when, on the other hand, Spaniards consider paella a regional dish. Born in the Valencia region sometimes in the 19th century, paella (which, in Spanish, simply means “pan”) can be made with just seafood, meat or a combination of both, which is what we are mostly accustomed to.
Paella requires a short grain rice, such as bomba or calasparra (bomba is easier to find here in the US) and just a little bit of patience. Unlike risotto, it requires no stirring whatsoever – so do resist the urge. I have used the same recipe forever, changing some of the ingredients here and there depending on seasonality but I recently incorporated a suggestion from David Tanis of the New York Times, which I found intriguing, i.e. finishing the paella in the oven.
RECIPE – for 4 people
1 # large shrimp, deveined and tails on
1 onion, chopped
1 fat link of chorizo sausage, cut in small chunks
2 C bomba rice
4 C chicken broth, warm
1 pinch saffron
2 ts paprika (or pimenton if available)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ts red pepper flakes
1 C fresh or frozen peas
A/N olive oil
A/N salt and pepper
- Rinse, dry and marinate the shrimp in a bowl with olive oil, 1 ts paprika, garlic and a bit of salt and pepper (up to an hour on the counter or two in the fridge).
- Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a 12” cast iron skillet or other large skillet on med-hight heat (or paella pan if you have it). Partly cook the shrimp, about 30 seconds per side and set aside.
- In the same pan, add the chopped onion, remaining paprika, saffron, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onion has softened, about 10 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the chorizo and cook for another 5 or 6 minutes.
- Add the rice and stir, coating it evenly with the oil. Add all of the warm broth and the peas and stir to distribute the ingredients evenly. Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer and let the rice cook for about 15 minutes, without stirring.
- In the meantime, heat your oven to 375. Once most, but not all the broth, has been absorbed, remove the pan from the heat. Taste the rice. It should still be very firm and not cooked through. Adjust seasoning if needed. Distribute the par-cooked shrimp over the rice and slide the pan in the oven for about 15 minutes.
- Let the paella rest for 10 minutes before serving.