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Prepare Paella Like A Pro

Aug 17, 2007
Preparing paella is an interesting endeavour for any cook. This dish does not really have a set list of ingredients but is mostly a combination of different meats and vegetables. In fact, the The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, refers to paella as a saffron-flavored dish made with varying combinations of rice, vegetables, meat, chicken and seafood.

The meal is prepared in a pot - all the ingredients meld together in the pot while cooking to create the dishes great taste. This pot cooking is so closely associated with this dish that it's name, paella means frying pan or pot in Old French and Catalan languages.

Paella is a great dish to make if you want to clean out the fridge and use up leftover meats and vegetables. Any combination will eventually be great the secret is in the chemistry. Paella is a dish that is generally made to feed several people. Moreover, paella is quite flavorful the next day as the tastes have had time to mix together and become stronger.

The secret to a good paella is being creative, therefore there are many recipes one can follow. But since a recipe is not necessary, nor desirable, the basic steps to creating this dish are outlined below. It's up to you to provide the creativity in ingredients to make the dish your own!

Making The Rice

You can use whatever kind of rice you like. A wild rice can add interesting flavor and texture to the dish, but if you prefer brown or white feel free to go with. Frying the rice as outlined below will give it a nutty flavor.

Wash the rice and set aside
Chop tomato, onion ad garlic
Heat olive oil in a skillet, and once the oil is hot (but not smoking) toss in the rice
Add the onion, garlic and tomato after a minute or two

Stir until the onion, tomato and garlic are soft. Don't let the rice mixture overcook - 3 to 5 minutes is plenty of time. At the end of the cooking, you can spice it with whatever spices you like. Some common spices for paella are saffron, salt and pepper but you could add cayenne, cinnamon or any other herbs that you and your guests prefer.

Remove the mixture from the burner and toss in some frozen peas. Not too many as you don't want to overpower the rice but just enough to add a little accent.

Preparing The Meat

In a frying pan at high heat, brown some pieces of chicken. Upper thighs, drumsticks, breasts...it's all good. Do not cook the meat completely but brown the outside. Once browned, set the meat aside. Lamb can also add great flavor to your paella.

Combining The Two

The combining of the rice and meat mixtures is what makes the paella such an interesting and flavorful dish. Cover the bottom of the paella pan with the uncooked rice mixture. Add the browned chicken pieces on top. Add uncooked Merguez (spicy lamb sausages) and small fish filets rolled up and fastened with a toothpick or string. Use any type of fish but make sure that its flesh will hold well together. Pour some chicken broth on top (if the broth is warm the cooking time will reduce). Note that you can also add wine for more flavor. Cover the paella dish and cook for about 45 minutes at 350F or until the rice is cooked. At this point you can add raw shrimp or muscles and cook uncovered for another five minutes.

And there you have it, an interesting dish with something in it that is sure to please everyone!
About the Author
Lee Dobbins writes for Online Gourmet Foods where you can find more recipes and dinner menus.
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