Friday, March 27, 2009

REALLY GOOD (and not screwed up) PANTRY PAELLA

Some of the best paella I have ever had was from my own kitchen. And not made the traditional way either, I'll be honest. Only because -- unless you do it often, it's hard to get it perfect. And if the rice is too soft or too hard or the mix is too wet, it's not going to be good. 

Mine always comes out of a frantic - "Oh my gosh, what can I make? I have a screaming kid and need to put something together FAST!"  It's what I like to call Pantry Paella. Just grabbing leftovers from the fridge, or whatever fresh meat I have on hand, or both. I cook the elements separate, so that I can control things better, and then put it together at the end. Then the rice is perfect, the meat is perfect, and it was easy. I'm not saying not to make it the RIGHT way, I'm just saying it's really easy to make paella my way, and it tastes really good.

I cook the meat and rice separately. I got this wonderful new Le Creuset grill pan, and it made delicious grilled shrimp, chicken & onions for my paella. 

Saffron is absolutely mandatory for paella. Without saffron, it just won't have that unique flavor. When I cook my rice, I put a good pinch of salt, and then a hefty pinch of saffron threads. 

I grilled some fresh onions and peppers, and then also some frozen mussels I found in the freezer that my husband bought at an Asian store. They add a lot of great flavor. 

Once you have the rice done, and the meat, lightly toss it together in a large pan, add a few pats of butter here and there, a cup of diced tomatoes (canned is fine, just drain them!) and then let it sit for a couple minutes, covered, and let the flavors come together. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste - and serve!  Total time from start to end, about 30 minutes.