Paella, the colourful, internationally known Spanish dish is a triumphal culinary rice preparation that developed in the fields by laborers using local foods. It is named after the wide shallow pan it is cooked in and can contain almost anything, including chicken, pork, shellfish, beans and peas; in short, whatever particular vittles you care to use. So what defines a paella? Olive oil, rice and saffron is the heart of a paella. Ask a hundred Spaniards what goes in a paella and you'll get 100 different answers, or more if they tell you how their mom or aunt makes it.
When the Moors ruled most of Spain, they popularized rice eating with the casseroles they prepared and subsequently established the custom of eating rice on that Iberian peninsula
In Spain, families like to take a paella pan and the paella ingredients and picnic by building a fire and cooking the paella al fresco. When cooked, they all sit around the paellera and eat communally.
If you have ever tasted a paella, you know what an extraordinarily delectable dish it is but were perhaps put off by the tedious time-consuming effort required to prepare this precious gustatory sensation. I thought about this and have actually prepared a stripped down recipe that still tastes like a paella should. This paella pronto compares with classic paellas taste-wise and takes little time to prepare.
Pronto Paella serves 4
2 Tablespoons highest quality olive oil
2-3 links of hot Italian sausage (about a half pound) casings removed
1 Cup of medium-grain rice (not long-grain)
2 cups of clam broth, seafood stock or water
½ Teaspoon salt (omit if using seasoning mix below)
½ Cup white wine (optional)
1 Sixteen oz can of stewed tomatoes
1 Cup frozen shelled edamame, cut-up green beans or frozen peas, partially thawed
1 Pound of large (15-25) shrimp, shelled and deveined *
1 Red bell pepper (capsicum), cleaned and chopped
1 Tablespoon paella spice mix (see below) OR:
½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika. Less than 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves , ½ teaspoon saffron, and quarter teaspoon dried rosemary
- Heat a wide skillet (ten inch or wider) over medium- high flame and add the oil
- Put sausages in skillet and cook, breaking up as you stir, until browned
- Remove the sausage to a bowl
- Put the raw rice in the skillet, lower flame to medium heat
- Stir the dry rice in the fat for a couple of minutes
- Add the salt and broth,stock or water and turn up the flame
- When liquid boils, lower heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes
- Add wine if using
- Add edamame or green beans and cook 5 minutes (if using peas, wait)
- Add red pepper and tomatoes and spices and turn heat to boil
- Add the shrimp, stir and when comes to boil, lower flame
- Cook the shrimp three minutes only and then add the peas if using
- Cook one minute, just to heat the peas* If you so desire, you could boil the shrimp shells in water to cover for ten minutes and make a lovely seafood shrimp broth.
I think this is pretty simple to prepare; a pretty paella made pronto. I hope you will try this paella soon and remember: once you have the olive oil, saffron and rice you can choose your own vegetables and meats or just vegetables only would be good.
- Paella Seasoning Mix50 whole saffron stigmas4 Tablespoons paprika, Hungarian or Spanish or both1 Tablespoon smoked paprika2 Teaspoons onion powder1 ½ Teaspoons garlic powder1 Teaspoon coarse ground black pepper1 Teaspoon dried rosemary2 teaspoons salt
Thoroughly combine all and store in an airtight jar.
- The Moors (Muslims originating from North Africa) did a lot of good in Spain. They encouraged learning and the arts. Although the rest of Europe was mired in the dark ages, the Moors studied and kept alive the works of the classical Greeks and Romans. The Moors are also responsible for the exquisite architecture to be found in Spain. Not only did the Moors introduce rice from Asia to Spain, they also started the cultivation of oranges and a complex system of irrigation that made Spain a prosperous group of kingdoms. They were expelled right before Christopher Columbus set sail for India. But you can enjoy the fruits of the rice they favoured
- Happy eating