Two years ago, my mother and I went to Madrid, Spain. Once there, I was tempted to try paella, but the presence of seafood prevented me from doing so. You see, the only types of unfried seafood I like are very small shrimp (like in fried rice), baked salmon, and tuna fish in a can. The only types of fried seafood I like are fish (like in fish and chips) and shrimp. That’s it. I don’t like crab, lobster, mussels, crawfish, or anything else that resembles how it looked when it was alive haha. I don’t like slimy food either, so yeah, I had to stay away from the paella. I did, however, try to taste just the rice portion of the paella one day, but I had to quickly wash out my palate (not “palette!”) because I could still taste the seafood or clam juice in the rice. From that day on, I had decided that the only way I would be able to have paella would be to make it myself, but at that time of my life, I wasn’t a cook at all. So, I just gave up on that dream until a few days ago!
After corresponding with Sarah Jay (read how she started the company!), the founder of Paella Pans, which is a small, family-run business, I received a pan imported from Valencia, Spain in only a matter of days.
I found a recipe for Chicken Paella on her website and examined it anxiously every day as I waited for the pan. I almost had it memorized. My yellow-cake friend, Lydia, was with me when the pan arrived, and we were both impressed with how the pan looked and how big it was. I was beyond excited to try it out and felt like the luckiest person in the world.
A couple of days later, I made the yummiest paella I had ever had (out of two paellas total haha!). Lydia said that it looked incredible, and my neighbor said it looked like the real thing even without the big prawns and mussels, and they both used to live in Spain.
The pan from various angles: I stuck the tag back on this pan so you could see from whence (hehe) this pan came.
The bottom of the pan and its handle: look at the bubbles or dimples at the bottom of the pan; they are there to promote even heating.
As an instructor of college-level Spanish, it is refreshing to see how her excitement for the Spanish language and culture encouraged her to start a business for importing paella-related products directly. Now, that’s what I call ambition and drive. I hope some of my students get that excited about learning Spanish and various cultures different from their own.
Anyway, back to the paella. Because I wanted to make this paella asap, I did not get to try out the ingredients on the Paella Pans website, but I did use similar products.
For instance, I used bomba rice that I obtained from Williams-Sonoma…
That’s the most classiest-looking rice container I’ve ever seen.
I also used Spanish chorizo…
…pimentón dulce (purchased in bulk for only .39 cents!), and saffron.
You can see the packaging of the chorizo in the top right corner.
The chicken as pictured was not fully done, so I had to cook that some more when I returned home from my friend’s house (I don’t have a photo of that because it was devoured quickly by my neighbor and me for dinner). Lydia, her husband, and I gobbled up the shrimp and chorizo, though, while pushing the lemon slices aside haha.
As Sarah writes in the recipe, don’t pull out any plates for this dish; eat the paella directly from the pan itself. YUM! I want to make this again very soon.
After some serious damage, I still had plenty of leftovers. I still need to work on making the socarrat or the crusty, crispy layer formed under the rice, but look at that garlic!
I made only two additions to this recipe – the chorizo and shrimp. I cooked the deveined and peeled shrimp in a separate pan, but you could cook up all the meats together since the pan is so large or one at a time and then place them in a separate plate to rest. Don’t cook the shrimp up too much because it will go back in the pan along with the rice later on. Just cook them until they turn a slight peach-looking color. Make sure the chicken is cooked pretty well, though. I had to cook the chicken for about 30 minutes, and that still wasn’t long enough, so cook it longer than that. The chorizo is already dried and cured, so you don’t need to cook it for very long. For the full recipe, go to the site.
For your entertainment, I have some process photos below and a special announcement you don’t want to miss!!
PAELLA IN THE MAKING:
Boil chicken broth; toast and crush saffron, and add to boiled broth.
Cook the peppers and garlic; cook the meats and veggies and set them aside; peel the covered, hot bell peppers
Make the compote comprised of grated tomatoes and onions.
Add the Spanish or short/medium-grained rice before adding the broth and the rest of the ingredients that have been set aside while keeping the whole garlic in the middle of the pan.
Okay, now for the exciting news! Paella Pans has graciously allowed me to sponsor a giveaway for one of their 14″ carbon steel pans – just like the one I now have – to one of you all!!
MINIMUM QUALIFICATION: Because this is a small company, this giveaway is open to residents of the contiguous United States only.
TO ENTER THE PAELLA PAN GIVEAWAY: All you have to do is go to their site and tell me what you would like to either make or buy there if you could.
DEADLINE: Monday, July 5th, 2010. ¡BUENA SUERTE! GOOD LUCK!