A few weeks ago, my husband and I had the privilege of going on a Western Mediterranean cruise. (I know, right??!) It was utterly amazing. We departed from Barcelona, Spain, and then had stops in Monaco, Italy, and a few more in Spain. I thought it would be neat to recap a little bit of our trip and feature a recipe from each of the countries we visited.
First up - Valencia, Spain. This was actually our last
port of call on the cruise, so we didn't have any big plans for the day. We decided to go out and explore on our own. Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, so it was a bit overwhelming. We walked a few miles to the 'Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias' (City of the Arts and Sciences) and saw a lot of neat architecture and gardens. There was an aquarium, an art museum, a botanical garden, plus a science museum. We just wandered around looking at all the sights. It's actually located right near an old riverbed that flooded several years ago and has since been tuned into a picturesque park snaking throughout the city.
After getting our arts and science fix, we decided to visit the 'old town', where the cathedral, basilica, and lots of historical sights are. (Along with shopping and restaurants.) We'd already walked a few miles from the ship, and considered walking to the old town... but we weren't sure how far it was. We ended up taking a cab instead, which was a great idea since it was about 5 miles away. (Or so it seemed.)
After walking through all the shops and such, we found a little cafe for lunch. We wanted to get some paella, which is a rice dish that actually originated in Valencia. It's typically made with long grain rice, a few types of meat, green vegetables, beans, and seasonings like sweet paprika, oregano, and saffron.
[caption id="attachment_2986" align="aligncenter" width="384"]
Enjoyed with sangria, of course.[/caption]
The paella we ate actually had rabbit (!!) along with chicken, peas, and butter beans. I still can't believe I ate rabbit. (Honestly, I couldn't tell the difference between the rabbit pieces and chicken pieces.) I wasn't quite able to find rabbit at the Chief, so I adapted the recipe a bit to what is readily available in Ohio. ;)
To make your paella, you definitely want to use the biggest pan (or wok) you own. Even better if you have a paella pan. (I don't, so I actually used two pans. This makes a lot of paella!)
Start by browning some chorizo in a pan. Once it's cooked through, remove it to a dish, and add some diced chicken breast that has been seasoned with paprika and oregano. Once that's browned (not necessarily cooked through), remove it to a dish. This allows all the flavor of the meat permeate the entire dish.
Next, add your onion, garlic, and parsley to the pan; saute 2-3 minutes. Add a can of crushed tomatoes, and your other vegetables; cook a few minutes just until caramelized. Add the rice; stir it around to toast it a little.
Next, add the majority of the water to the dish. Stir everything around, and let it simmer about 10 minutes. Add your chicken pieces and chorizo back to the pan, along with several dashes of turmeric, and salt and pepper. (If you have saffron, use that instead of the turmeric... it's just a pretty expensive spice.) Continue simmering, adding additional water as needed, until the rice is al dente. When the rice is cooked, turn up the heat for about a minute to form a crispy crust on the bottom. Let it sit for 5 minutes before serving.
Serve with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a spring of parsley. It was so much fun to be transported back to Spain last night on our back patio.
This dish is so good - you've got crisp vegetables, chewy rice, and a bit of heat from the chorizo and spices. The nice thing about paella is you can really add whatever you've got in your fridge. Have extra meat in the fridge to use up? Extra veggies about to go bad in the crisper drawer? Throw them all in. It's really a 'clean out the fridge' type meal.
Be sure to mix up a pitcher of Raspberry Mango Sangria
to go with it!
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- kosher salt & black pepper , to taste
- 2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast tenders, diced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lb. Spanish chorizo sausage
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 package snow peas, chopped
- 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 15-oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
- 4 cups long grain rice
- 6 water, (plus more, as needed)
- large pinch turmeric
- lemon , for garnish
Combine the sweet paprika and oregano with salt and pepper to taste. Rub all over diced chicken breast; set aside.
Heat olive oil in LARGE skillet (or 2 skillets) over medium-high heat. Add chorizo; cook until browned. Remove and reserve. Add chicken breast, turning to brown on all sides. (Do not cook chicken all the way through at this point.) Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Remove chicken from pan and reserve.
In the same pan, add onion, garlic, and parsley. Saute 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add crushed tomatoes, red pepper, and snow peas; cook mixture a few minutes until the tomatoes caramelize a bit. Fold in rice and stir fry to coat the grains. Pour in water and simmer 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Add chicken, chorizo, and several shakes of turmeric to the pan. Continue simmering, adding additional water as needed until the rice is cooked al dente, about 15-25 more minutes.
When the paella is cooked and the rice looks fluffy and moist, turn the heat up for 1 minute until you can smell the rice toast at the bottom. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes before serving. Garnish with additional parsley and a squirt of fresh lemon juice.
adapted from the Holland American Culinary Arts Center