The Exotic Flavors of Spain at Your Dinner Table: Paella

Spain is known around the world for its bold colors, beautiful language, rich history, whimsical culture and exotic cuisine. Paella is the staple dish of Spain, featuring a little bit from almost all food groups. This hearty and savory meal is actually fairly easy to make, unlike what many will tell you. Far too long have we been intimidated by this foreign recipe. You can tame this wild thing at home, and you can do it all in one pan!

Cara's "All Turf - No Surf" Paella:

- 5 links of Spanish Chorizo or Kielbasa Sausage, sliced
- 1 cup Medium or Short Grain Rice, uncooked
- 2 cups Chicken Broth (bullion works too)
- 1 cup Frozen Peas
- 1/4 Parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon Thyme
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 pinch Saffron (about 1/8 teaspoon maximum)
- 1-2 Bay Leaves
- 1 medium Onion, chopped
- 2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3-4 cloves of Garlic, minced
- 1 can Diced Tomato, drained (14.5 oz)
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

In a 3.5 quart, large saute pan (or similar cooking vessel), heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Fry sausage slices until they carmelize on the outside, about 5 minutes. Remove sausage and set aside. Lower heat to medium and sautee onion and garlic until onion is halfway transparent and garlic is fragrant (about 3 minutes), add a few extra drops of olive oil if the pan looks a bit dry before sauteeing onions. Remove garlic and onions and set aside. Rinse rice in a thin mesh collander until the water runs clear. Add another tablespoon of olive oil, return heat to medium high. Fry rice in hot oil until slightly toasted for about 3-5 minutes. Return onions and garlic to pan, add chicken broth, drained tomato, spices, and mix to combine. Reduce heat to low, cover pan and let simmer under cover for 20 minutes. About halfway though the cooking time, add frozen peas and return sausage to pan. Mix to combine and cover the pan for the rest of the cooking time. Allow Paella to cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Cara's Tips: The trick to a great paella is the right combination of spices. No subsitutions on the spices if you want it to taste right. Saffron is an absolute necessity for this dish (don't try the tumeric substitution, it doesn't work), so you'll have to pay a good amount for this very specialty spice. The proteins are all optional. Many traditional Spanish paellas have different combinations of proteins including chicken, chorizo, shrimp, mussels, fish, and other types of seafood. If you'd like, you can also switch the peas for green beans. I've seen many traditional paellas use green beans. Please do not use instant rice, it does not do this dish justice. Try to get short grain rice or medium grain at the very least.

A few great quality ingredients can get your dish singing the authentic flavors of Spain, in less than an hour and on your dinner table for your family, even during the week! This Latin staple isn't as complicated as once deemed. Take your family on a trip around the world in one pot!

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