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Paella, Crusty Bread, and a Bottle of Spanish Red
by Jes Mostek

(2 ratings)
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In addition to the recipe, you will also need the following for this meal:
  1 loaf  good crusty bread
  1 bottle  Spanish red wine or grape juice

Paella de Lala
by Jes Mostek
serves: 10
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  Prep Time: 30 min.
Cook Time: 65 min.

Paella gets its name from the Spanish paellera, the special pan that is traditionally used to make it. The American equivalent would be the big roasting pan you use to cook your Thanksgiving turkey. You can get creative with the meats and vegetables in this recipe to make it your own, but the things it must contain are the rice and the saffron. Saffron threads have a rich, distinctive flavor and gives foods an equally rich golden color. I have heard of using turmeric in Paella, but you might as well just use yellow food-coloring. The spice is a bit pricey (hey, only a few saffron threads come from each flower), but it's worth it for the flavor it yeilds.

This is probably our family's absolute favorite meal! And I can attest for this recipe's authenticity since, Lala, my husband's abuela (his Spanish grandma) showed me how to make it.

This recipe calls for chicken, bacon, and shrimp, but you can adjust which meats you use to fit your personal preferences. I never add the shrimp since my husband is allergic and I think it still tastes just as good without it. Also, I think this recipe would be great with the addition of pork or any other fish or shellfish.

Now I have to admit that I did change her recipe a little bit, but I have a hunch that I was simply reversing her changes to make it a bit more healthy. To make it more healthy, only use 1/2 lb. of bacon, increase the amount of olive oil to 1/2 c. and drain the bacon fat. Also, she only uses 3 1/2 c. water, but I have an issue with crunchy rice.
  1 lb.   bacon
  1/4 c.   olive oil
  1   whole, cut-up chicken with the skin removed
  1   green pepper, diced
  5 cloves   garlic (or 1/2 tsp. powder for each clove)
  1 (15 oz.) can   tomato sauce
  1 (5 oz.) jar   sliced spanish (green) olives with pimientos
  1 lb.   shrimp, peeled, deveined and cooked
  1/2 lb.   frozen peas
  4 c.   water
  3 c.   white rice
  2 pinches   saffron, toasted
  Cook the bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium heat until it starts to get crispy. Be careful not to burn the bacon, but if it's not fully cooked, it won't be a big problem since it'll cook in the Paella later.

Remove the bacon from the frying pan (don't drain the grease), and crumble the cooked bacon on a plate. Set aside.

Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with a paper towel. You can substitute 2 lbs. of chicken breast meat for the whole chicken (to make it a bit healthier). In that case, cut the chicken into pices that are each about 3-4 inches long and wide. If you're using skin-on chicken, you'll want to remove a couple spoonfuls of the bacon grease from the pan.

Add the olive oil to the bacon grease in the frying pan and heat over medium heat until the oil ripples. Add the chicken to the pan and brown it on both sides for a minute or two (it'll get a chance to cook through in the oven).

Transfer the chicken to the roasting pan, leaving the oil in the pan. Sprinkle the crumbled bacon over the chicken. Cover the roasting pan and set it aside.

Saute the diced green bell pepper and minced garlic in the hot oil over medium heat until tender. Add the tomato sauce to the pan. Pour this mixture over the meat in the roasting pan.

At this point, you may add the shrimp, fish, pork, and any other meat you may want to use.

Top with sliced olives & pimientos (and the liquid) and peas. This is when you'd add any other vegetables that you might like to use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In frying pan, pour 3 1/2 - 4 1/2 c. water. Heat water, while scraping the sides of the pan to make sure that you get every bit out of the pan.

While the water is heating, toast the saffron. Place the 2 pinches of saffron on a small (6" square) piece of parchment paper (or acid- and chemical-free white paper). Fold paper up like an envelope and place on the stove surface near the flame to toast it, but not burn it (if the paper starts to brown, move the paper slightly away from the flame). Toast the saffron for about 5 minutes, then remove the paper from the stove and rub your knuckle over the paper to crunch up the saffron. (You could also toast the saffron in a dry skillet over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes)

Pour the hot water into the roasting pan. Shake the toasted saffron out of the envelope into the pan. Place the roasting pan over 2 burners each on medium-high heat. Pour the rice into the roasting pan in a cross pattern, lengthwise, then widthwise. Give the pan a good shake to evenly destribute the rice at the bottom of the pan and to bring the peas and olives to the top of the pan.

When the paella mixture comes to a boil, transfer uncovered roasting pan to the preheated oven. Cook for 20 minutes (open the oven and give the paella a shake to assure even distribution of the rice at the 10 and 20 minute marks). Cover and cook another 10-20 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave the covered paella in the oven for another 25-35 minutes more.

Serve with good crusty bread and some Spanish red wine, such as Tempranillo.
  • Dairy Free
  • Ethnic Foods
  • Fall/Winter
  • Fish & Seafood
  • Main Dishes
  • Pasta/Rice/Potatoes
  • Peanut/Nut Free
  • Poultry
  • Wheat Gluten Free

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