Thursday, February 24, 2011

Spanish Paella

Background
So... did anyone know that I am 1/4 Spanish??  Yup... its true--I can claim Hispanic on "check the box" race forms!  My grandfather on my dad's side was born in Spain and then immigrated to the U.S. when he was in his early 30's (I think?).  Plus my dad served his mission in Spain and growing up we would learn about the culture from my dad's mission experience.  Growing up, I wasn't exactly proud of being Spanish.  I don't even know if there is a big enough number for the times I was teased and called Mexican or expected to speak Spanish.  I'm not Mexican and I don't speak Spanish.  I didn't really like my maiden name and was so grateful when I got married and it became a normal, English/ American name!  Anyway... that is not the point of this!

We would always celebrate 3 Kings Day and my dad would often make Tortilla de Espanola for us.  We always called it a Spanish Omelette (it is like an omelette but has cubed potatoes in the egg batter... and it is not folded over on itself --wiki explains it pretty well!)

But this past weekend, we had the opportunity to enjoy a real Spanish feast.  We drove up to my parents' home and learned so much about our heritage.  The table was set with several dishes all stacked on top of each other.  Each course would use a different dish and when you were finished with one course, the plate or bowl was simply removed and then the next course would use the next dish down.

The main course was Paellla.  Casey and I have fallen in love with this dish and I imagine we will make it time and time again! :)

My dad taught us that paella was a poor man's supper and it would be made on a beach.  The paella pan is a shallow, large-diameter pan (it is kind of like a wok).  They would build a large fire (or use hot coals) on the beach and cook it there with what was available.  They would use large varieties of vegetables and many combinations of various meats and fishes.  Shellfish would often be used because it was easily available.  This is kind of like the Spanish version of a large BBQ.  (Note: we did not go to a beach or build a huge--illegal--bonfire.  We simply used a large fry pan on the stove!)

Paella Recipe
(written by my dad--thanks!)

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1/4 chopped onion
1/4 chopped green pepper
1/4 chopped red pepper
2 chopped tomatoes

In a large fry pan, heat the oil.  Simmer all of the above items until soft.

1 lb salmon cut into 1 to 2 in squares
2 lb crab cut into small sizes

or

2 lb chicken breasts cut into small cubes

or

1 lb of sausage or bacon

or
any combo of meats  ( In Spain, they have many different meats cooked together.)

Fry the meat with the other items.  Set 2/3 of the mixture aside.  Add a small splash of olive oil. 

Add 4 cups of long grain white rice.  Stir with the 1/3 of the meat mixture.  Cook on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.  Add 4 cups of chicken stock.  Reduce heat to medium.  Stir occasionally.

1/4 green pepper - Cut into large squares
1/4 red pepper - Cut into large squares
1/4 onion - cut into large slices

1 cup frozen peas and carrots

When the rice mixture has lost most of the liquid, add the peas and carrots,  Arrange the peppers, and onions on top.  Spoon the remaining of the meat on the top of the rice.  After adding the balance of meats, care is taken to not stir them into the rice, but leave them on top.

Add 6 cups of chicken stock or water.  (2 1/2 to 3 parts liquid total to 1 part rice)  Add a pinch of saffron.  Reduce heat to medium low. 

Lift from the bottom to keep from sticking.  Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
 
May need to add more water until rice is soft.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

So... I just realized when my dad wrote "Fry the meat with other items." It really means cook the meat (whatever you decide) until it is completely done/ not pink! Just thought I might clarify that point in hopes of preventing raw meat paella dishes! ;)