Friday, January 22, 2010

Paella (versus Jambalaya)

Check out my entire Olympic menu and recipes here.

Paella. Sigh.... seriously delicious dish. I'm also a big Jambalaya fan which is not really different from Paella. They are variations on the same dish, one Spanish and the other Creole. The basic ingredients are the same. The differences are the Spanish Paella typically uses Chorizo sausage, smoky paprika and Saffron. The Creole Jambalaya uses Andouille sausage and Cayenne pepper. Either way, awesome dish! Super to make for a big crowd; for the big game, after an afternoon of skating or an elegant evening in with good friends, a nice bottle of wine and a roaring fire. A perfect make ahead meal so it's ready to go when you are. Damn I'm hungry. Luckily I have some waiting for me for lunch. Oh and did I mention the leftovers are great for lunches and it all freezes beautifully?!

You can use any combination of seafood, poultry, ham or sausage. If you are using shrimp or mussels, add them just before serving so they don't end up over cooked and rubbery. I leave out the mussels for any of the leftovers I'm freezing.

This is also a great recipe to substitute brown rice for white rice. The dish is so rich and flavourful that you'll never notice the difference. I don't always like to use brown rice especially in dishes that are mild. It can change the flavour too much but in heavily seasoned, sauced or flavoured dishes, brown rice works perfectly. I'm like that with whole wheat pasta too. It's hard to change over completely when you were raised on white rice and pasta but we all do what we can. ; )

One more tip, I find that freezing dishes with peppers in them tends to make the pepper bitter. Try using roasted peppers. You can buy them in a jar or I make my own. Just toss them in the oven (I use my toaster oven). Place them right on the rack close to the top burner element with the oven set on broil. Rotate them all around as they get black on each side. Typically it takes about 20 minutes. Put the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Once they have cooled the skins peel off easily, remove the seeds and voila! You have roasted peppers. I do up a bunch when peppers are cheap and wrap them up individually and freeze them. Or you can just buy a jar.....

Serves 6 -8

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 -3 chorizo sausages, diced or casing removed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 chicken breasts, bone in, cut into 4 -5 pieces each
  • 2 chicken thighs, bone in, cut into 3 -4 pieces each
  • Pinch of Saffron
  • 1 Tbsp smoky Spanish or Hungarian paprika. I used half sweet and half spicy paprika
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme and rosemary or 1/2 dried of each
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 large red and/or green peppers
  • 32 oz, 798ml can of diced tomatoes
  • 1.5 cups of brown rice
  • 2 cups or more of water
  • 1 lb shrimp, shells removed
  • 2 cups of frozen peas
  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. You want something with a large bottom. Either a large saute pan or a wide pot.
  2. Add in chorizo and onion and brown, about 5 minutes
  3. Add in and saute chicken pieces until brown
  4. Add in the saffron, paprika, thyme, rosemary, peppers and garlic and cook until the peppers are softened, about 2 - 3 minutes
  5. Toss in your tomatoes, rice and water, reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is tender. Keep an eye and add more water if necessary. This can take 20 - 30 minutes, depending on your rice.
  6. Add in your shrimp and cook until they are opaque and cooked through.
  7. Toss in the peas, mix and serve.
You can use boneless chicken for quick convenience but the flavour from cooking with meat on the bone is lost. I use boneless when I'm in a hurry but when I'm making a big pot for entertaining, I use the bone on.

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