As I write, my parents and brother are in Valencia, Spain. I imagine that they are enjoying themselves as they visit with my mom’s relatives. Without me. I may be a tad bit jealous–or maybe a lot. Since Jason and I could not join them in Spain at this time, we decided to solace ourselves by making a Paella.
You may have seen pictures before of a seafood-covered rice dish called Paella. I won’t say that it’s wrong, but it’s not the Valencian dish which is cooked for Sunday dinner and during outings to the countryside.
This, to the daughter of a Valencian by birth (my mother) and a Valencian by experience (my father), is a Paella:
And it is, to me, the best tasting comfort-food ever. It really is a surprising dish in which a small number of fairly normal ingredients prepared rather simply combine to create a rich, savory flavor.
We started by boiling green beans in chicken broth. While that boiled, Jason browned the chicken pieces in the paella (also the name of the pan–which is where the name of the dish originates).
The paella was set up on a propane paellero, a small tripod contraption that you can see below.
Once the chicken had browned to a light golden color, Jason pushed it away from the center, making an open area where he dropped tomato paste in order to saute it a bit.
We then poured the boiled green beans, along with the chicken broth they’d boiled in, into the paella. And then we waited as the brew simmered…and simmered…and simmered for an hour while we periodically replenished the water to main its level in the pan.
After an hour, Jason separated the chicken at the middle, pushing each half towards one side of the pan so a channel opened up in the middle. Down this channel he poured the rice, stopping when it formed a “dike,” that is, became visible above the level of the liquid.
Once the rice had been stirred in, the paella simmered some more, and we watched the liquid disappear, soaked into the rice. Finally, the rice was cooked an our paella was done!
We carried it inside, scooped it out onto plates, and admired the socarrat, the toasted, crisp rice (which you can see a bit of below) that occurs on a paella whose heat-levels have been carefully watched during the last stage.
Just in case anyone worried, we did not eat the whole thing, but actually plan to have it, reheated in our toaster oven, for dinner every night during this hectic week. Don’t worry–we won’t get tired of it. It’s too good for that to happen!