Ingredients: Chiles, Smoked Paprika, Black Pepper, Sea Salt, Garlic, Onion, Roasted Bell Pepper, Lemon Juice, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Parsley, Saffron
Paella is a rice dish that was created in its modern form in the mid-19th century in Valencia a town on the eastern coast of Spain. Many food enthusiasts around the globe view paella as the national dish of Spain. Ask most Spaniards about paella and you're more likely to hear that they consider it to be more of a regional Valencian dish.
There are primarily three types of paella. The most authentic is Valencian paella which is most typically made with white rice, beans, green vegetables, seasonings and meat (a combination of chicken, duck, land snails and or rabbit). The second most popular is seafood paella which drops the beans and green vegetables and replaces the meat with seafood. The third type of paella is a mixed paella is a looser mix of meat (from the Valencian style of paella), seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans.
Like many great ethnic dishes there is no "one recipe" for paella as recipes vary from family to family. While paella has its roots in Spain it has become very popular in Hispanic hubs throughout the US.
While there are numerous versions of paella, which can spark great debate among paella enthusiasts, you can get them to agree on one thing. The puffy yellow rice dish served at most Spanish restaurants, which it often topped with red peppers and made with anything from chorizo to lobster to shrimp, is not the real Valencia style. The authentic Valencia version of paella is darker, richer and smokier. This dish will also be drier than a properly prepared rice pilaf.
Now if you're like most adventurous cooks in this country you're probably a bit short on your culinary heritage and most of your finished dishes tend to be a more creative adaptation of an authentic dish (and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that). If you think about a paella as a one pot rice dish you're probably more than half way there. Make a seafood or mixed paella and add whatever meat, beans and vegetables that you want. Heck you can even make a vegetarian paella is you want.
But with that said try to stay true to a few points and you'll be closer to a real paella. Be particular about your choice of rice. Spaniards use Bomba rice in their paella which is known for its ability to absorb water -- 1.5 times as much water as regular rice without becoming mushy. In this country, Arborio rice from Italy is often substituted for Bomba as it is more easily found. If you use Arborio you'll want to adjust the liquid so you're one cup of rivc to every using two cups of water (or stock).
Water is typically the preferred in an “authentic” paella, but in many cases stock works as well if not better. Chicken stock doesn't overpower the dish and works great. If you're making a seafood paella consider using a fish or shrimp stock. You can also use tomato juice, white or red wine or some combination of these.
Two keys to make a successful paella. First is that a paella is not stirred (or just barely stirred). And second you want the rice on the bottom of the pan to brown if at all possible. This will typically take lots of practice until you perfect but this is well worth the time spent to get this part right. The first or second time this happens it is more likely beginners luck. You have a better chance of achieving this if you keep the heat relatively high, turning it down only when you smell a little scorching.
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