This week was the first in years that my whole immediate family has spent more than 1 or 2 days together. It has been great, lots of laughs, lots of catching up, and lots of great food. One of the things that really brings us all together is eating and cooking. For as long as I can remember we have been spending the majority of our time in the kitchen sharing recipes and tips, and creating wonderful dishes.
One thing that my mom really instilled in us was to make everything (or at least try) from scratch. This has been a wonderful skill and hobby to have because it made us appreciate the fruits of our labor so much more than just going out to eat.
This weekend we decided to make Paella, one of my all time favorite dishes. There is something so comforting about the creamy saffron rice coupled with juicy sweet shrimp and spicy sausages. I have yet to find a restaurant in Los Angeles that can replicate what we can make at home. I gave it an honest try at Artisan House in Downtown LA, but was greatly disappointed by the lackluster amount of seafood and the bland rice. The closest I have come is in a great restaurant in Portland, Oregon called El Toro Bravo. Here the seafood is extremely fresh and there is plenty of it to satisfy at least two people. The rice is nicely seasoned with just the right amount of saffron.
The thing I love about Paella is that you can really add whatever protein you want. You can play around with different types of fish and shellfish, different types of sausages, you can add chicken; the combinations are really endless. For our Paella we chose to use spicy pork sausages, browned chicken legs, and big juicy prawns. We also used homemade chicken broth that made the flavors of the dish much more complicated and rich.
You can also play around with the types of vegetables that you add; you can add bell peppers, onions, peas, and so on. We chose to use roasted red bell peppers and summer peas.
Paella is also a great dish that pairs beautifully with a variety of different wines. Based on which protein you use, you can try it with pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, vino verde and other dry white wines or Rose. We chose to pair it with a grenache rose that we bought from margerum winery in Santa Barbara, very light and crisp, and went great with the dish. Overall a great meal spent with my favorite people; I couldn’t ask for anything better.
Paella (4-6 generous servings)
2 cups arborio rice
4 cups chicken broth
2 generous tablespoons garlic
1 1/2 tsp organic saffron. I suggest you not skimp on this ingredient and splurge on the good stuff.
2 tablespoons sambal
2 tsp pepper
1 lb shrimp
1/2 lb chicken, browned but not cooked all the way
2 spicy pork sausages, sliced and browned
1 cup summer peas
1/2 cup roasted bell pepper, sliced
Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a large skillet cook the rice with the garlic and saffron over medium heat for about 5 minutes to help the rice cook faster and the saffron to start developing its flavor. Brown the chicken and the sausages just enough to get some color but not to cook all the way. Place the rice in a large paella pan, or large round pan, and pour the chicken broth over it. Place the chicken, shrimp, sausages, peas, and bell pepper over the rice. Spoon sambal over rice/seafood mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Using your hands or a spatula mix everything together evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the oven for about 70 minutes, check if the rice is cooked all the way (it should be soft like risotto). If it is not, pop it in the oven for another 5-10 minutes.