Traditional Spanish Paella


Let me tell you, there is nothing like a traditional Spanish dish. My favorite Spanish dish by far is paella! If you're not familiar with paella it is a Spanish rice dish that originates from Valencia, Spain. There are many variations of paella but the most authentic consists of a mixture of meat, seafood, and veggies. The best paella that I've ever had comes from this little place here in Atlanta called Lafonda Latina - it's deliciously cooked in a cast iron skillet with yellow rice, calamari, shrimp, baked chicken, chorizo (Spanish Sausage), green peppers, onions, pimentos and clam juice.

I've made this dish probably a half a dozen times now and what I love most is that the versatility is virtually endless. Every time I make it I incorporate something new. You absolutely have to give this a try at least once, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Directions:

Since we're working with a lot of different ingredients the first thing you should do is get your chopping, seasoning and dicing out of the way. Start by chopping the chicken into 1 inch squares. 


Season and coat the chicken with olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt & pepper  in a small container. Then cover and  place in the refrigerator. 


Dice the peppers, onions, and parsley. 


Traditional Paella uses chorizo sausage but I can never find it at my local grocer so I use Conecuh Hickory Smoked Sausage which works just as well. You can keep or remove the skin, it's up to you. 


Chop the sausage into small pieces and bake in the oven until done. As an alternate method you can also cook the sausage in a skillet with the rest of the meat but I find it easier to cook it separately. 


Boil the frozen peas, drain and set aside. 


In a large skillet heat some olive oil over medium heat and stir in some garlic, red pepper flakes, and the rice. Be sure to coat the rice completely in the oil. 


Stir in the saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and a little lemon juice. 


Cook until boiling, reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer for about 20 minutes. Then mix in the peas. 


In a large separate cast iron skillet heat some olive oil over medium heat and add the seasoned chicken. Cook the chicken until done on all sides and add the onions. 


Marinate until the unions are tender. 


Add the red peppers and shrimp. Cook for about 5-10 more minutes. 


Add in the cooked sausage and let everything simmer in the sauce and heat for about 5 more minutes. 


Now you're ready to serve ^_^


Enjoy!


Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 40 mins | Total Time: 1hr 10mins | Serves: 5-6

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons olive oil (for seasoning)
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt and black pepper to taste
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided (for rice)
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bag of uncooked short-grain white rice (or paella rice)
1 pinch saffron threads (optional)
1 bay leaf
1/2 bunch Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 quart chicken stock
2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil (for meats)
1 Spanish onion
1 red bell pepper
1 lb conecuh sausage (or chorizo sausage w/casings removed)
1 lb pre-cooked shrimp (peeled and tail casings removed) 

Method:
In a medium bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, oregano, and salt and pepper. Stir in chicken pieces to coat. Cover, and refrigerate. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or paella pan over medium heat. Stir in garlic, red pepper flakes, and rice. Cook, stirring, to coat rice with oil, about 3 minutes. Stir in saffron threads, bay leaf, parsley, chicken stock, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Stir in marinated chicken and onion; cook 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and sausage; cook 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp; cook, turning the shrimp, until both sides are pink. Spread rice mixture onto a serving tray. Top with meat and seafood mixture.

Notes:
I still haven't quite mastered the art of cooking rice in a skillet. As many times as I've made this it still doesn't seem to get quite as tender as I'd like. It's still very good but if you're a stickler for tender rice I'd suggest boiling it instead of cooking it in a skillet. You can use regular short grain rice but I use 2 bags of store bought Paella rice which includes saffron threads. So if you get paella rice you won't need to buy the additional saffron threads.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

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