Sunday, August 10, 2008


After all of my hard work this week, I decided to treat myself to paella. This is adapted from the recipe that came from the lady I lived with in Seville, Spain several years ago, Gloria. Gloria was a great cook and since I love food, we made a deal the day I moved into her house that I would try everything once and be honest with her if I didn't like it. If I didn't like something, she wouldn't make it again. That only happened with calamari (which I happened to walk in on her cleaning--ew) and some weird North African pumpkin dish. I still tried both, though. One of my favorites was her paella and she gave me the recipe the night before I left.

I started with a heavy skillet and coated the bottom in olive oil.

While that was heating on medium-medium high heat, I prepared the vegetables and meats.

Here, I have a red pepper, a lemon, two cloves of minced garlic, about 1 cup of chopped yellow onion, and a chopped tomato.

The meat component includes 1/4 lb. of cubed chorizo, one cubed chicken breast, and one cubed pork chop.

First, I added the chorizo to the pan to start rendering some of its fat.

Then the chicken and pork go in, sprinkled with a little salt and pepper and cooked until they are slightly browned.

I removed the meats from the oil with a slotted spoon and set them aside in a bowl.
Next, I added the onion and garlic to the remaining oil.

Once the onion and garlic were softened, I added the tomato and cooked for another minute or two before removing that mixture to a bowl.

I added 1 1/2 c. medium grain rice to the remaining oil and toasted it for about 30 seconds before adding 3 c. water.

The saffron goes in next--I usually use about 1/2 tsp. saffron, but all I could get today was American saffron, so I added about a tablespoon. I'll have to stock up on saffron when I'm in Spain next month.

I put the meats back in:

Then the tomato mixture:

Then I added frozen peas--1/2-1 cup:

I stirred everything together, added the juice of half of a lemon and a little more salt, then decorated the top with sliced red pepper and thinly sliced lemon.

The lid goes on, I leave the rice alone, and let it cook--here's what it looks like while it is cooking:

The paella is done when the rice is cooked. Then I turn the heat off and let the paella sit for 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Don't forget to get the browned rice at the bottom of the pan--they look more black than brown in the photo, but they are delicious. I used to fight with Gloria's son (my Spanish "brother") Paco Pepe for the rice at the bottom of the pan.

I serve this with Catalan bread, which I drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and then toast:

When it comes out of the oven, I rub the warm bread with a clove of garlic.

And then I rub each piece with tomato, which gives it an orange tint that you can't really see here. It is delicious:

Here's my final Spanish dinner--paella with Catalan bread and peaches for dessert. We always ate fruit for dessert, but I wasn't allowed to eat certain fruits after 5:00 p.m. Gloria said that fruits like oranges would upset my digestive system and keep me up at night, so she gave me peaches, pears, and apples in the evening.

Yum. There were many days that we would have paella for lunch and then I would spend the afternoon sitting by the Guadalquivir River near our apartment reading a book or studying. There was a cafe on the river bank that used to play Blondie's "Maria" over and over again. Every time I hear that song, I think of Spain.