Paella is a dish of great possibility, without rigid constraints. It was originally created by workers in the orange groves of Valencia with the elements they had on hand, commonly duck, rabbit and snails. Seafood paellas are a fairly recent adaptation, although they are the most popular. The only constants in paella are the rice, olive oil, onion and saffron. All other ingredients are a matter of the regional style and imagination of the cook and what is good in the market that day.
In Spain, the vagaries of paella are the subject of endless debate and great passion. Paella can be made with…
…game birds, rabbit, lamb, chicken, pork, sausage…
…any number of vegetables such as broad beans, artichokes, roasted bell peppers, spring onions, peas, large white beans, garlic shoots…
…a host of fish and seafood, including shrimp, lobster, clams, mussels, squid, crayfish, snails, eel, monkfish…
At Solera restaurant in New York City,Ruffino Lopez-Lourido, a walking reference work on paella, made intriguing and delicious paellas with squab, the Spanish blood sausage called morcilla, and suckling pig, among others. Henri Delcros at Meadowood Resort once devised an unusual grilled vegetable paella. Classically, only a few kinds of meat or seafood and vegetables are featured in a paella. Paella is above all about rice.
Check out Canal House‘s Christopher Hirscheimer and Melissa Hamiltons Grilled Lobster Paella step by step...
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2 replies on “4th of July pt 2: paella’s improvisational possibilities”
I’m astonished at this post since I recently discovered paella (from a recipe in Men’s Journal) and have been making it every week for a couple of months. Is this a trendy dish? I first heard it mentioned a year ago by a friend from Spain and when I saw the recipe in a mag decided to give it a try. He said they make it for Sunday night get-togethers and everyone brings something to put in the paella. Had never heard of it before that.
It seems to be the kind of dish that is suited to endless variations (improvisations.)
The first time I made it, I didn’t have lemons so I used clementines instead. We’ve substituted Italian sausage for the chorizo or just used browned venison with sausage seasoning. But the real improv starts with what to do with the leftovers…
add to scrambled eggs or use as a side dish with any mexican meal, or use it as the base for tostadas then add cheese and salsa, etc.
It validated my purchase of a huge skillet a number of years ago (sadly, it is really not big enough for how much we like this dish.)
Well, I don’t know about a trend…I’ve been making paella’s for years, since I first went to Spain and had the real thing. But it would be nice if it started catching on. It IS such a great dish. And I love your ideas for leftovers. Don’t forgot “fried” paella: form the cold paella into patties, dust em with flour (I find Wondra best) and pan fried them in butter. Yum.