Authentic Spanish Paella is a tasty, colorful, communal dish that is usually served right out of the pan. This recipe is modified from the cooking classes I took with Fernando,  a Spanish chef while traveling in Spain over the holidays.

1 1/2 cups Valencia rice
4 cups broth-must be HOT
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cloves garlic-minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 tsp smokes sweet paprika (also known as pimenton)
pinch of saffron-infused in three tablespoons of cold water.
1 lb chicken thighs-whole or cut in 1 inch pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 cup of peas (or green beans cut in 1/2 inch pieces) or both!

Season chicken with 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp smoked sweet paprika, 2 tbsp olive oil and 1 garlic clove and set aside .  Heat broth in a separate pan.

In a paella or skillet pan heat the olive oil and brown the chicken on all sides (will not be cooked through), remove from heat and set aside. Then, lower the heat to medium and sauté the vegetables. Begin adding the vegetables one at a-time, starting with the ones having less water.  Add in an additional vegetable in approximately two-minute intervals and in any case always sauté the onion and garlic last.

Once sautéed, make a “volcano” or hole in the center of the pan pushing the  vegetables around the side and in the resulting space, add a little oil and fry the paprika (constantly moving it around with small spoon) with extreme caution not to burn because it will become embittered and would be impossible to eat.

At the time the smoked sweet paprika is dark and smells, quickly add the tomato paste to the paprika to stop the cooking process of the paprika.

Now add saffron with water and meat. Sauté for 1 minute then add rice, win, salt and pepper stir and let wine reduce. Make your final stir and add the hot broth.  Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes and then lower the temperature. Cook for another 10 minutes and remember… DO NOT STIR.

Serve with lemon wedges as a garnish as the fresh lemon juice with add the perfect brightness.

Even though it’s tempting…don’t stir the paella.

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