OK, ok. I know what’s going on inside everyone’s mind. How can I post a rice paella recipe on a Paleo, Vegan, Whole30, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free blog(I really need to use acronyms)? Well you know what? I am human too and paella is one of my favourite summer meals. So what’s wrong with a cheat day here and there?!?!?!? Nothing. If your body can tolerate it, do it. We only live once people, so let’s enjoy what we can, while we can! Now get on with it preachy Sean.
Paella Mixta. Just saying it makes me smile. What is paella mixta exactly? Well there are some mixed reviews on what is considered a paella, and what is considered paella style rice. It’s all delicious if you ask me. The argument is that the original Paella born in the Valencia region of Spain, was made with white rice, green beans, white beans, chicken, rabbit, snails, saffron, and rosemary. Clearly nothing like what I have here. As, paella spread from the region, so did the list of ingredients. Near the coast it’s thought more seafood paella was served, inland, more land based meats graced the dish, and then of course the mixed seafood and land protein paella I present here called Paella Mixta. Love all of it, so let’s stop fighting about what is paella and just enjoy the dish, shall we?
How do I cook it? Paella is traditionally cooked outdoors on a fire in a short but wide pan called a paellera (if you can say that quickly twice in a row, my hats off to you). I try to keep with that tradition by cooking on a charcoal BBQ in a similar pan. I have even added smoke wood to the coals to get some extra smoky flavours. Yes, it makes a difference. Don’t have a charcoal BBQ or BBQ pit? Cook it on the stove. You won’t get the charcoal or smoke flavour, but you will still get an awesome dish. Don’t have a paellera, use a large cast iron or non-stick skillet.
When making this dish, there are 3 things that are particularly important:
- The Bomba Rice – this particular style of rice is more forgiving and not so easily overcooked. It is short grained, absorbs the flavours beautifully, and has a great texture. I love long grain, but in my opinion it has no place here. You can try to sub in other varieties of short grain if you don’t have Bomba rice, but I have not done so and can therefore not offer any advice. If you do, please share your results!
- The Sofrito – the tomato, onion, garlic sauce that is the base of a good paella mixta. This is the heart of your flavour profile so you really want to nail this!
- The Soccarat. This is the crispy layer of rice that forms on the bottom of the pan. Any paella critic is going to look for this. You don’t have to bother with it, but trust me, it is a treat if you can achieve it! Watch closely though, there is a difference between a beautiful brown crust and burnt paella. If you don’t have your heat under control, the gap between the two becomes very narrow!!
Paella is a labour of love. If you aren’t one to spend time in the kitchen prepping and cooking, then this won’t fit your 30 minute meal lifestyle. Those meals have a place, don’t get me wrong, but paella is gonna lock you down for an hour or two. Or three. It’s the look on everyone’s face when they see the dish hit the table, then the look of satisfaction as they take their first bite that really makes it all worth it. So if you’ve got the time, and the ingredients (or any variation of the proteins), then I highly recommend you give this a shot. I also very highly recommend prepping EVERYTHING first. It’s a good time to practice your Mise en Place (a French term for having everything cut, peeled, grated, sliced, measured and prepped before you start cooking). Once the cook starts, you have to pay close attention to what is happening as things move quickly and there are many stages. Now get your aprons on and get nuts!
Recipe coming very soon!