PAELLA!-A Spectacular Rice Dish!

Enter the world of Paella. Not in the kitchen- no way. It’s on the deck for grill, baby grill and my man did just that! He is the “Paella maestro.”

“It’s the most wonderful dish of the year!” Lots of love and labor went into birthing this baby. The real Valencian folks  might appreciate the work it took to get it from the grill to the table.

Valencia, located in the southeastern region of Spain, is where the grass is green, the mountains are grand, the Mediterranean sea is sparkling and the sun is always shining. Welcome to the home of the Paella, the rice dish that has made its name across the world and into our home.

A few things you need to know about Paella. First, the word “paella” comes from the Latin word patella, meaning pan. The paella pan is the method to cook the most important ingredients: rice, water, olive oil, garlic, parsley and saffron. The rest of the ingredients are a constant debate among Spaniards. Put two Valencian cooks together and you will likely get three Paellas.

There are at least three types of paella: the Valencian Paella, which consists of rice, green vegetables, duck, chicken, rabbit and snails. The other two, made more for the tourist, are the seafood paella and mixed paella- a combination of meats, and seafood. Anyone can cook Paella on the kitchen stove, BUT, the grill is a fun and entertaining way to get everyone involved. The one thing I like about this dish is that you can throw it all into the pan and eat straight out of it. The rest is getting experience by trial and error. Try and try again, till it  becomes better and better.

A great paella maestro, a term given to a Valencian paella cook, needs a great sous chef. Folks, that was me along with some recruits from the family and guests. For our mixed paella recipe, we had at least 19 ingredients that I needed to dice, chop, cut and prepare: squid, octopus, shrimp, spanish chorizo, rockfish, chicken, pork, steak, mussels, red bell pepper, onion, tomato, saffron, parsley garlic, paprika, broth, olive oil, and rice. The whole process was a well orchestrated affair, a constant harmony of movement along with a few sips of wine to add to the event.  One note of warning: we had to watch the pan carefully to make sure the fire did not burn the bottom. In the end, some of the rice was al dente, not all of it, and the maestro was a bit disappointed, but the presentation and delivery was stunning. No one went home unhappy.

Did I mention that there were wonderful tapas BEFORE the Paella? They included Spanish chorizo, champagne Spanish sausage, Spanish cheeses, marinated pork loin, mushrooms and garlic, and pork bites. What’s a Paella dinner without dessert and wine. We had apple crumble, apple and manchego with cream, and 10 different Spanish wines that guests brought over to sip. I do love a nice dinner party. Here’s to my friends and family. BUEN PROVECHO!

Here is the recipe I used from Penelope Casa‘s book “Paella!” Join me this month as we venture into Asian Territory-JAPAN!! I’ve already got the cookbook, made a dish and now the menu!