Paella (“pie-ee-ya”) is a Spanish dish based on rice and peas. Usually it has seafood and sausage, unless it has seafood and ham, although some versions have seafood and seafood. It always has seafood unless it doesn’t, in which case I consider it something that can taste wonderful but is not paella. Rice, peas, and meat are required, and it is cooked in a giant pan that looks a bit like someone ran over a wok with a steam-roller.
Sib-in-law has been experimenting with one-dish meals this summer, and came up with a simpler, stovetop Southern version of the classic.
1 lb boneless chicken thighs, skins removed, trimmed and cut in half
1/2 lb raw shrimp, shells on [Alma note: I take the shells off. You lose a little flavor, but there is less mess at the table]
salt and pepper, 7 cloves of garlic (not a typo)
Mix the oil and spices and divide. Marinate the chicken and shrimp in the above, in two containers.
Butter, one sweet onion, minced; one small green pepper, raw or peeled and roasted, minced; one 15 oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes (drain, mince, drain again – reserve liquid)
2 c. jasmine rice; healthy pinch of real saffron (1/2 t.) crushed, 3 C chicken stock at a simmer, 1 1/2 t sweet smoked paprika.
One cup lightly cooked green peas (they can cook as the paella simmers)
While the meat is finishing marinating, bring equal parts oil and butter to shimmering-hot in a large cast-iron pan. Add chicken and cook for “several minutes” without turning. Then turn and add veggies, plus more salt and pepper if desired. Quote, “Shimmy these around the chicken until the veggies soften” quote. [Sib-in-law’s a little different.] Add rice and saffron, stir to coat completely or for one minute. Pour all the stock into the pan and stir until everything is evenly distributed. Keep at a low boil or active simmer, stirring every few minutes. If the rice starts to dry out before it is done, add the reserved tomato liquid.
When rice is finished, add the shrimp and cook until done, or for four minutes [I go five because of elevation]. Top with cooked green peas and adjust seasoning.
You can also use a large regular frying pan, but it needs to be heavy enough to hold the heat.
Alma note: real saffron, not “Mexican saffron.” Yes, it costs an arm and a leg. Use the additional saffron to make saffron buns, or a really good risotto, or…