The Secret To Preparing The Perfect PaellaAccording to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English
Language, paella is a saffron-flavored dish made with varying
combinations of rice, vegetables, meat, chicken and seafood.
The Dictionary also explains that in the Old French and Catalan
languages, paella means frying pan or pot. The traditional
paella pan is flat and of large diameter, it can also have
handles on each side.
In fact, paella is one of the most versatile dishes to make.
Paella also has the advantage of being great to clean out the
fridge and use up leftover meats and vegetables. Any
combination will eventually be great the secret is in the
chemistry. Paella is a dish that is generally made to feed
several people. Moreover, paella is quite flavorful the next
day as the tastes have had time to mix together and become
This article is not a recipe but rather an outline that
describes the three basic steps to follow to make a wonderful
paella while leaving the reader (the chef!) the latitude to be
creative and to make the dish their own by customizing it to
First the rice.
Select a type of rice that you are comfortable using. Feel free
to experiment but know that paella contains a lot of ingredients
and if you are unhappy with the end result with a particular
type of rice, you might end up with a lot of waste. Basmati,
brown or a mix with wild rice can add great taste and texture.
Follow the instructions on the package with regards to washing
and cooking the rice. Finely chop some onion, garlic and
tomato. Heat a saucepan and add olive oil once the saucepan is
hot (make sure that the oil does not start smoking. Burnt olive
oil is carcinogenic and quite unhealthy). Once the oil is hot,
throw in the uncooked rice. Frying uncooked rice gives it a
nutty taste. Let the rice fry in the saucepan for a minute or
so. Add the chopped onion, garlic and tomato until they soften,
mixing constantly. Spice with saffron, salt and pepper. Feel
free to experiment. Cumin, Cayenne various fine herbs or even a
bit cinnamon or cloves can easily be added for a flavoring of
your own. This mixture should not be on the stove for more that
three to five minutes. At high heat with constant mixing, none
of the ingredients should stick but they should mix well
together and soften. Once all the ingredients are combined,
remove the saucepan from the burner and mix in some frozen
peas. Add enough peas to make a well balanced mixture.
Second the meat.
In a frying pan at high heat, brown some pieces of chicken.
Upper thighs, drumsticks, breasts...it's all good. Do not cook
the meat completely but brown the outside. Once browned, set
the meat aside. Lamb can also add great flavor to your paella.
Third combining it all.
Cover the bottom of the paella pan with the uncooked rice
mixture. Add the browned chicken pieces on top. Add uncooked
Merguez (spicy lamb sausages) and small fish filets rolled up
and fastened with a toothpick or string. Use any type of fish
but make sure that its flesh will hold well together. Pour some
chicken broth on top (if the broth is warm the cooking time will
reduce). Note that you can also add wine for more flavor. Cover
the paella dish and cook for about 45 minutes at 350F or until
the rice is cooked. At this point you can add raw shrimp or
muscles and cook uncovered for another five minutes.
In short, the secret to preparing the perfect paella is to make
it your own!
About The Author: You too, can manoeuvre in the unfamiliar
waters of gourmet cuisine, with just a few well-learned
techniques that are easy to master, and build a repertoire of
literally hundreds of dishes and deserts. Let Geoffrey set you
on the path today, to gastronomical delights!
Spanish Bar and Restaurant Cooking: Authentic Recipes for Paella, Tapas
and Sangria by Maria Ballinger from Amazon.co.uk