Friday, May 31, 2013

Paella in a pinch

I know what you're thinking: "Paella? That's definitely not kosher." Typically, you are correct. Paella calls for a mix of sausage, chicken and shellfish, which makes the dish definitely treife. After watching numerous shows on Food Network with the dish, though, I really wanted to try it.  So I made a few adaptions and this is my version.

I removed the seafood altogether, and because I don't have a large paella pan (they are indeed huge), I removed the chicken. I used kielbasa, a Polish sausage, but you can use andouille as well. Spanish rice goes best, as this is a Spanish dish, but for And unfortunately, because of its expense, I did not add saffron, which is at the core of most paellas.  If you can get it, I highly recommend adding a little bit at the end of the dish.  This is not your traditional paella in the slightest, but it is delicious. 



1 green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
1 long green pepper
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
1 package kielbasa
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 tsp cardamon
1 tbs oregano
lemon juice


Dice up your peppers and onions. Finely chop the garlic. Mash your tomatoes using a mortar and pestle or in a large bowl with a potato masher (this is a fun way to work out some aggression). 

Cut the kielbasa into chunks, first lengthwise and then horizontally. 


In a large saute pan with a lid, heat two tablespoon of olive oil.  When the oil is ready, drop the kielbasa. Stir occasionally for even cooking, but for the most part let it sit so it cooks thoroughly.  The more you move it in the pan, the less it will cook.

When the kielbasa is browned, remove it and set it aside, leaving the oil and the leftover bits of flavor in the pan.

Next you're going to make a sofrito, a tomato-based sauce used as a base in a lot of Spanish cooking. Turn the stove to medium heat and add all your veggies to the pan.  Stir for two to three minutes and then add the tomatoes  and stir to combine all the flavors. Add about a tablespoon of dried oregano and a teaspoon of cardamon. 

Add in two cups of rice and then four cups of water. I used the measuring cup from my rice cooker, which is a different size than a regular measuring cup. Make sure you use the same cup for both water and rice. Use a water/rice ratio of 2:1.

Cover the pan until the liquid comes to a rapid boil and then let the pan simmer for 10 minutes so that the rice absorbs the liquid, stirring occasionally. 

Add in a little more oregano, salt and pepper to taste.  Finally, add in about two tablespoons of lemon juice.  Stir well.  Turn the heat up for the final minute to crisp the rice on the bottom and continue stirring.  According to Food Network's Chef Tyler Florence, the best paella has a toasted bottom, called socarrat. If you find the rice isn't toasting in the pan, cover it and place it in the oven at 350 for 5 to 10 minutes. 

Serves 4-6.