Paella. It sounds fancy, and it conjures up images of summer nights on a terazza somewhere on the Spanish coast. But in reality, it’s actually a very simple, very cost-efficient dish to serve a crowd or a big family!
And best of all, it’s a perfect way to make use of odds and ends from the freezer/clearance meat section, like when my kid found clams on sale for 99c. and demanded that we buy them. (IDK…he’s got a weird palate. He binge eats roasted seaweed sheets until he smells like fish.)
There’s no real “recipe” for paella, it’s basically saffron rice, tomatoes, some seasonings, and whatever meat you’ve got handy. Smoked sausage, chicken, and shellfish are traditional, but you can use a combination of anything you like. Sometimes I’ll just toss in bite sized veggies for a meatless version. Don’t be put off by the use of saffron–even though it is one of the more costly spices, you won’t need more than a pinch and it keeps well for years. Check a middle eastern or Indian grocery for the best price. It’s worth buying. It adds a subtle but distinct flavor that’s kind of like buttered popcorn, and a brilliant yellow color.
It’s best on the grill, but you can prepare it on a hot stove, too. You can often find a paella pan (it’s like a large, very shallow skillet) at one-off stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls, or on Amazon. If you don’t have one, just use the largest skillet you’ve got. I’ve even used disposable foil pans on the grill.
The key is to get a nice sear on the meat–it will add color and depth of flavor to the finished product. Serve with fresh fruit or a crunchy salad, and a glass of Spanish red wine (Rioja is a natural pairing, or make a batch of Sangria!)