Have you ever had a good paella? No, I mean a really good eyes-roll-back-in-your head paella? There are a million different recipes out there for paella. Some with chicken, some with seafood, veggies, and others with a virtual kaleidoscope of ingredients - everything from beans to snails and beyond. Some recipes are simple and others might take hours of time just to arrive at the very building blocks of a good paella; making from scratch the sofrito and the caldo that add so much depth and complexity to the final dish.
The key to making a good paella is less about whether you choose chicken or seafood, or decide to spend hours of time in the kitchen versus minutes. The key is starting with the right basic ingredients and then knowing which shortcuts to take to arrive at maximum flavor with minimal hassle (meaning more time to relax at the table with friends!). Here are a few tips and tricks that will elicit that "oh-my-gosh-delicious!" reaction each and every time.
1. Not all rice is created equal: Have you ever made a paella with just plain ol' long grain white rice? If so, you probably noticed that the cooking liquid didn't absorb as quickly, and the result wasn't so flavorful - turning out more like a plain rice-and-something recipe rather than the rich and meaty, even creamy, rice quality you would expect from paella. Using genuine Spanish rice is key, such as our Matiz Bomba or Paella Rice, as it absorbs an incredible amount of liquid which means that the flavors in your broth and the juices from your proteins will infuse the entire dish.
2. Shameless shortcuts: Let's be honest. If you want to get to that wow-worthy paella that you remember having on the beach on some hot summer night in Alicante... you're going to have to take some shortcuts. Rich, complex flavors usually come from hours in the kitchen making homemade caldo (broth) with just the right ingredients, technique and time. Same goes for the traditional Spanish sofrito that is the base of every great paella recipe. Sofrito is a combination of tomatoes and olive oil and is roasted for hours, reducing the tomatoes to a thick sauce. Why not break out Matiz Sofrito and Aneto Valencian paella base to add layers of flavor in just minutes? Go ahead, we won't tell.
3. Saffron is gold: What makes paella unique is it's use of saffron, the tiny pistils found at the center of crocus flowers. They are hand-cultivated, making saffron a rare and usually expensive spice. Don't fall for the cheap and bright yellow saffron sometimes found in the markets. Go for Azafran Oro, which is authentic saffron from the region of La Mancha in Spain. You might pay a few extra dollars more, but because the bright red pistils give off so much flavor you can use less.
Are you hungry yet? Grab one last essential, a round paellera and a bottle of wine (okay, that's two essentials) and start cooking! Check out our paella recipes on our recipes page to get started.