Sunday, April 18, 2010

Paella Party

Every Friday night I make a big family dinner, with fresh bread, a roasted chicken, and string beans.  Every Friday night I make a big family dinner, with fresh bread, a roasted chicken, and string beans. Every Friday night I make a big family dinner, with fresh bread, a roasted chicken, and string beans. 

It makes me a very dull girl. 

Anyway, this week we were having guests, and I was behind as usual.  As I cursed under (and let's face it, above) my breath, I had a realization.  This wasn't any fun.  And I wanted a good time, not just for me, but for all of us.  Spring is finally here after a long, crappy winter, and it seemed like a little fresh air was in order. And then it hit me - paella.

Paella is one of those dishes that seems a lot more complicated than it really is.  It uses simple but easily found ingredients, cooks in less than 30 minutes, and serves family style. Paella is tasty, colorful, and when done right looks like confetti in a pot. In short, Paella is a party. 

Here are a couple of tricks that have served me well when making this dish:
  • Use a large, cast iron, dutch oven.  Ladies, this is the time to bat your eyelashes and ask your handsome husband/boyfriend/girlfriend/neighbor/boy next door that you wanted to talk to but could not find an excuse to do so, to lug your super heavy Le Creuset out of the closet and onto the stove.  It goes from the burner into the oven, and you need something that can take the heat.  Well made stainless steel would probably work.  I would not recommend using anything non-stick, or thinly made.  
  • Paella is all about the rice.  You can try long grain rice, but beware that it will not work well with a paella recipe.  You need something starchier, say an aborrio, short grain, or medium grain.  Personally, I keep the latter on hand in the pantry; medium grain rice is inexpensive and readily available in the Spanish foods section of your market.  I like the Goya brand. 
  • Use a dry white wine.  I prefer sherry or vermouth. 
  • Try and find a high quality sausage.  Chorizo is the traditional choice.  But I like the chicken andouille  kinds that are out there; they are healthier and easier on the stomach. Looking for a kosher brand?  Try Neshama, which is kosher and organic.  If you can find me a grass fed, pasture raised brand, please post a comment about it below.
I made my paella and because it came together so quickly and easily, I didn't need that extra pill before the guests arrived.  Everyone enjoyed themselves, and we all had a lovely evening. Oh, and ps: clean up was a breeze because this is a one pot meal, and Le Creuset washes like a dream.  All just in time for The Shining's 30th anniversary - maybe The Overlook can start serving it in the dining room, cheer the place up a little.  

Chicken and Andouille Paella
Adapted from Marc Bitman's How to Cook Everything
Serves 4

3 1/2 cups of chicken stock
Pinch of saffron
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tbsp chopped garlic
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
8 oz chorizo or andouille sausage (I use a chicken version)
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup tomato puree
2 tsp paprika (smoked if you've go it, sweet if you don't)
8 roasted red peppers, rough chopped (piquillo are best if you can find them)
2 cups medium grain rice
Chopped, fresh cilantro leaves

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place stock and saffron in a sauce pan and warm. 
  3. In a large dutch oven (preferably cast iron), cook chicken in oil until deeply browned on both sides. Add onion and garlic and cook on medium until soft. 
  4. Add chorizo, wine, tomato puree, and paprika. Bring to boil and cook for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.  
  5. Add the peppers.  Add rice, scattering it evenly across the pan. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes. Add the warm stock and stir until just combined. 
  6. Place pan in oven and bake for 15 minutes. If the rice seems dry but not done, add a little stock or water. Turn off the oven and let the pot sit in there for another 5 - 15 minutes. 
  7. Remove pan from oven, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve.


  1. Oh this is dangerous. I've had my eye on a dutch oven but have so far been able to resist temptation. I lurv paella. No good can come of this...

  2. I am sad to say I have never had paella. It looks easy enough, but I'm sure I would mess it up somehow! I love one pot meals though. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Thanks for the great idea. This is something that both my kids would probably love.

  4. This sounds like my kind of paella. I'm not a seafood lover. I think I will try this with the cast iron dutch oven I got from Elisabeth.

  5. Such a good recipe; and so forgiving for the novice, that even your husband was able to make it fairly well. Not as good as you do it though ;-)