CHRISTMAS SPANISH STYLE – HOW TO MAKE PAELLA
In case you don’t speak Spanish, that means Merry Christmas. Right about this time of year I start thinking in Spanish, the tongue of my ancestors. And my tongue starts dreaming of the Paella I am going to eat at my annual Paella Christmas Party.
I love a good Paella. But getting a good Paella outside of Spain isn’t easy. So, when I want a truly good, truly authentic Spanish Paella, I simply have to make it myself.
Or, I elicit my son to fly in from Washington, DC to make one for me! That’s always convenient! So, if Nathan’s going to fly in from Washington, DC to make me a Paella, I figure he might as well make it for a crowd, and thus began the Annual Becker Christmas Paella Party. But mind you, we don’t simply eat Paella at my Paella party. We eat lots of other really good Spanish stuff that I get other family members to make for me! It’s a real family affair!
I get my son Taylor to make Spanish Empanadas. They are out-of-this-world delicious! They make my Spanish tongue sing! And, no Spanish party would be complete without Tortilla Española. So, I get in on the act and prepare it.
It’s really yummy. Remind me and one of these days I’ll teach you how to make Tortilla Española. It can be found on any street corner in Spain. And, it can often be found on my street corner here in Lake Arrowhead, as it’s a staple in my kitchen. I usually serve it for dinner as a main course. But, I serve it as an appetizer at my Paella Party, cut up into bite-size pieces.
But more about Tortilla another time. Right now, I want to tell you about my Paella Party.
I serve Spanish Marcona Almonds and Spanish Manchego Cheese at my Paella party. I told you all about Manchego cheese here in my post about Toledo, Spain. That’s where it comes from! Are you getting hungry yet?
And, I wouldn’t consider having a Christmas party without Grandma Nellie’s Wicked-Good Cranberry Relish. Don’t tell anyone, but the Cranberry Relish isn’t Spanish; however, Grandma Nellie is, so we take liberties.
It is almost certain there will be snow on the ground this time of year, so we get the Spanish wine and Cava (Spanish style Champagne) to chillin’ in it.
How do you chill your wine?
The snow also comes in real handy for chillin’ our Christmas Cosmos.
So, back to the Paella. An authentic Spanish Paella needs to be cooked outdoors in an authentic Spanish Paella Pan, over an open flame.
I just happen to have one of those, so Nathan sets up shop on the terrace and gets to work.
Meanwhile, back in the bar, Brad sets up shop too.
Brad’s very particular about his bar. He doesn’t let just anyone enter his domaine. However, he makes an exception for his buddy Mark Lester.
Mark pours a mean drink, so Brad welcomes his assistance. And, to insure that Mark is well compensated for his labors……
Brad makes sure there is a special tip jar just for Mark. He’s real generous like that:)
Taylor likes to get in on the act behind the bar as well. He turned 21 last year, so he’s real happy. Can you tell?
I make hot spiced apple cider and chill sparkling cider for those guests under 21.
I get the dining room ready, so we can eat our Paella by a toasty fire……
……and Nathan gets the Paella cookin’ outside on his toasty fire. Below, you will find the complete recipe for my, until now, top-secret, family-heirloom Paella, given to our family by a Spanish nun. It is a very holy and blessed recipe! But, I thought I’d show you a few step-by-step photos of the Paella-making process first.
Nathan adds good quality extra virgin olive oil to the Paella pan and fries up sliced bell peppers in beautiful Christmas colors. To this, he adds diced onion and lots of garlic.
Once tender, he removes the pepper, onion and garlic mixture from the fire and sets it aside.
He then frys bone-in chicken thighs in olive oil. By the way, there are many versions of Paella.
I prefer mine with chicken and shrimp, because I’m not a huge fan of other shellfish such as clams & mussels, which are often used in seafood Paella
We also add chopped up pork loin and my favorite, Spanish Chorizo Sausage to our Paella.
Then, there is shrimp cooked up in saffron and smoked paprika. Some years we also add crab legs.
Eventually rice is added, along with chicken broth. We have used the special imported short grain Spanish rice, but frankly, we have found that good-ole’ Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice gives the best outcome. Some Spaniards would probably argue that point, but many others swear by Uncle Ben’s.
Finally, peas (sometimes we use green beans instead) are added to the rice and then the previously cooked peppers are layered on top along with the shrimp and slices of lemon.
When completed, it is a thing of beauty. A very delicious thing of beauty! Is your mouth watering yet?
Meanwhile, the guests have arrived……
and my friend and Pilates Instructor, Lauren, whips up her killer Spiked Eggnog for all to enjoy.
My pretty daughter-in-law, Louisa, helps to serve it up……
Doesn’t that look amazing? Maybe, if I ask nicely, Lauren will give me the recipe so I can share it with you one day?
The Cranberry Cosmopolitans have been brought in from the snow.
And a good time is shared by young guests……
and slightly older guests……
and famous guests……
and the family of famous guests……
and the not so famous guests.
Good food and good fellowship is enjoyed by all……
But, I have to admit, we do take a departure from Spanish style when it comes to dessert. One year, I set up a chocolate fountain and it has become the go-to-dessert ever since.
My chocolate fountain is accompanied by every cookie, cake, fruit and marshmallow I could think of.
Well, to all my friends who may be wondering what happened to their invitation to my annual Spanish Paella Party this year, you have not been left off the list. We are skippin’ a year. Maybe I have to rename it the Semi-Annual Spanish Paella Party? Like me, you will just have to live the Paella Party vicariously through this post.
So, until next year, Feliz Navidad!
So there you have it: CHRISTMAS SPANISH STYLE – HOW TO MAKE PAELLA
PS – I bought my XL size, 36 inch Paella Pan and Gas Cooker at La Tienda.
PSS – The people at Uncle Ben’s haven’t got a clue who I am. They just hold a special place in my heart.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 Green Bell Pepper, sliced thinly
- 3 Red Bell Peppers, sliced thinly
- 4 Onions, diced
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
- 2 Heads Garlic, minced
- 36 Pieces of Bone in Chicken Thighs
- 1 - 5 Lb. Pork Loin, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 10 Spanish Chorizo Sausages, sliced into ¼" rounds
- 60 Whole Jumbo Shrimp
- 3 - 14 oz Cans Diced Tomatoes
- 6 Lbs Uncle Ben's Converted Rice (or short grain Bomba rice)
- 6 - 32 oz Boxes Chicken Broth (24 Cups)
- 2 - 16 Oz Bags Frozen Peas
- 1 Tbsp. Saffron
- 1 Tbsp. Smoked Sweet Spanish Paprika (Pimenton de la Vera)
- 1 Bunch Flat Leaf Parsley, Chopped, for Garnish
- Lemon Wedges for Garnish
- Clean, cut up and prepare in advance all ingredients and have them ready beforehand. Then proceed as follows:
- Add enough olive oil to a 36 inch paella pan to cover the entire bottom surface of the pan.
- Add the Red & Green Bell Peppers and cook until wilted. Remove from pan and set aside to be placed on Paella later on.
- Add the onions and cook until translucent.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are golden brown.
- Add the chicken and cook until browned on both sides.
- Push the chicken to one side of the pan.
- Add the cubed pork loin and chorizo sausage and cook until browned and push to one side of the pan.
- Add the shrimp and cook over a high flame. Remove shrimp when pink in color and set aside to be placed on top later on.
- Now, mix together all of the ingredients remaining in the pan.
- Season to taste with salt & pepper.
- Add the 3 cans of diced tomatoes to the pan and toss in the peas.
- Lower the flame and cook for 10 minutes.
- Now add the 6 boxes of chicken broth, saffron and paprika. Bring to a boil.
- Sprinkle in the rice and mix thoroughly.
- At this point, check again to see that it is seasoned sufficiently with salt and pepper.
- Cook over low flame for about 20 minutes until the rice is tender.
- Add the bell peppers & shrimp in a circular fashion, forming a decorative design on top.
- Turn off the flame.
- Cover the entire Paella with foil and let stand for 20 minutes before serving.
- Garnish with parsley & lemon wedges.
All opinions expressed in this post are my own. All photos are the original property of Celia Becker @ www.AfterOrangeCounty.com and may not be reproduced without specific permission.