I had paella on my brain when we got back from Spain in late May so I turned to the internet. I found a website on the East Coast that imports food from Spain and placed an order for the medium grain rice, paprika, olive oil and a paella pan.
Medium grain rice absorbs more liquid than the long grain rice that is sold in the U. S. The paprika adds a distinctive, punchy flavor. The olive oil is cold pressed. The pan has slanted sides with a shallow bowl. It sits astride two burners and should be rotated during the cooking process.
I looked up several recipes for paella on the web and finally settled on using Paella Valenciana from The Splendid Table and another one, a vegetable paella from The New York Times. Both contained some added suggestions (moving the pan around on the burners, tenting the rice with foil) that made the first trial easier. I chopped and read recipes; Ed stirred and tented and watched the timing. Together we made our first pan of Spanish paella which we served for supper with our two grandsons this weekend.
The first paella contained two chicken breasts, cut into small pieces; rice and chicken broth; onions, asparagus, garlic, and mushrooms; sweet paprika and freshly ground black pepper. I didn't order the typical saffron and will maybe add that later.
Paella is a one dish meal and bringing the pan to the table is pretty dramatic. In Madrid we saw paella ushered into the dining room by two servers. Ed thought maybe we should do the two-people-one-pan presentation. I vetoed that and set the pan in the center of the table.
Grandson Max reached for the serving spoon and said, "Can I start it?" I knew then that this might be a good dish for our family. Max scooped out a piece of chicken and some rice. Then we all served ourselves and enjoyed a tiny bit of Spain, right on our own table.
Next time, we'll maybe add some shrimp and green beans. Maybe some spicy sausage, too. That sounds super good.
Wanda Hayes Eichler