Paella is a spanish dish traditionally prepared with saffron (expensive!) and seafood (ugh, such a chore!). But the real secret to paella isn’t either of these two ingredients. It’s what the spanish call a certain… socarrat. That’s español for the crusty bits of rice that are formed when you DON’T i repeat DON’T stir the rice. See bottom right photo. It is glorious. What’s the trick to paella, you ask? DON’T STIR THE GODDAMN RICE.
In keeping with The PepperCorner’s tendency to put out recipes that have variable ingredients, I remind you – use whatcha got. Forget whatcha don’t. The only thing I consider crucial is that you use short-grain rice (arborio, bomba). You should also use something from the onion family (onions, garlic, shallots), some other veggies (mushrooms, carrots, peppers), meat if you’re not a veggie-monster (sausage, chicken), and I’m partial to serving mine with a poached egg. There’s something about a runny yolk and crispy rice that really just completes the texture of this dish.
You need about a half cup of rice per person, and then twice as much liquid as you have rice. The liquid can be broth, wine, or water. All in all, this recipe comes together in about 45 minutes.
If you’re using meat, cook it in a sauté pan, remove, and save the juices. Otherwise heat up some olive oil.
Add onions, and garlic and veggies and some seasonings. I used paprika and a dash of turmeric because it has that yellow color you would otherwise get from saffron. Also, use salt. Not just because it makes everything taste better (it does), but because it makes everything sweat. Human body odor = Naaasty. Veggie body odor = Deeeeelicious. Cook until soft and fragrant.
Add the rice. Move it around the pan so it gets doesn’t burn. Your burner should be on medium. After a few minutes it will be translucent.
OK now take the glass of wine you were gonna drink and put that in WAAAHHHH! I know, but there’s always another bottle in the fridge.
Stir until this first cup of liquid evaporates. I know, I know, it says don’t stir the rice. Just do it this once, just a little bit, just to see how it feels.
Once it evaporates add another cup (or so) of liquid. This sort of depends on how much rice you decided to use, but you should put about 2/3’s of your total liquid in now. Turn down the heat to medium-low. DO NOT STIR
You should monitor the pan and every 5 mins or so and if it looks dry (as in, there are little air bubbles between the rice and you see no liquid down there) add more broth. I’ll admit I ran out of broth at this stage, but I put some paprika in water and it turned out just fine. When you add the broth, give the pan a little jiggle so the juices get way down in there. DO NOT STIR
At some point, after about 20 minutes, there will be a toasty crust around the pan. This is socarrat. Your paella is complete!!
Unless, like me, you feel like adding a poached egg.
If you don’t know how to poach an egg, you can create little divots in the rice, and crack an egg into each one. Keep the heat on low and put a cover on for about 5 minutes, or until the egg whites aren’t transparent. You’ll still end up with a runny yolk, just no fuss with the poaching business.
Buen Provecho, Amigos! (Don’t forget the vino, a part of this complete