Cheap Recipe: Sweet Onion Spanish Paella

31 Mar

For a printable version of this recipe and complete ingredients listing, click here.

Spanish Paella

This particular version of the Valencian dish is known as "paella mixta" (meaning "mixed paella), indicating that both meat and seafood are used.

This is a great dish when you’re not certain how many are coming to dinner in advance, because it’s super easy to stretch both of the recipe’s protein sources without anyone being the wiser!

In your face, Hamburger Helper!

I know, this may sound a bit dodgy at first, but if you look at it another way, you’ll still be getting more protein (and fiber!) than you would by feeding your family Hamburger Helper, which loses a lot of meat bulk when it’s browned/drained.

(And there’s no disgusting fluorescent-orange-colored powdered cheese packet involved in MY recipe! Take that, stupid-white-glove-with-no-middle-finger! Ha!)

chopped ingredients

Chopped veggies and sausage.

Begin by chopping about six green onions, one whole Vidalia onion and half of a green bell pepper into fine pieces. Next, dice about a cup of fresh tomatoes (I halved some leftover cherry tomatoes), or drain a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes.

 Grease a large, deep skillet with about 2 tablespoons butter/margarine and set over MEDIUM HIGH burner heat. While skillet is warming, prepare your meat. You will need one long smoked sausage (about 7 ounces) and half a pound of thawed, cooked cocktail shrimp.

Let sausage begin to brown.

(If using raw shrimp instead, make sure heads/shells/tails are removed and add shrimp a few minutes earlier than described below.)

The original recipe serves about four, but you can double the other ingredients to stretch the protein by cutting the sausage into thinner pieces and slicing the shrimp in half lengthwise. (The shrimp will only look flat on one side until they start cooking–then the other side will “plump” a bit and no one but the cook will know your dirty little sercret!–Thanks to Dawn Welch over at the Rock Cafe/Dollars-2-Donuts for that great cookbook tip!)

♥ Chef’s Note: If you are feeding a herd, you can use the whole 14-oz package of sausage and a pound-bag of shrimp, tripling or quadrupling the other ingredients. You can also add a can of beans to the skillet without compromising any authenticity. Otherwise, freeze those “assets” for another whole meal!

Stir in rice.

Stir in rice.

Toss onions, green pepper, tomatoes and sausage in the buttered skillet. Sprinkle with garlic powder to taste. Add three boullion cubes (any flavor), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1-2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 tablespoon hot sauce (either Tobasco or Louisiana-style).

The brown sugar will help to marry the flavors of the Tobasco with the turmeric (see next stage). Avoid salting until sausage has had time to brown, as the boullion cubes will release a substantial amount of sodium as they cook down.

Add water.

Add water and reduce heat.

When sausage is slightly browned, reduce heat to MEDIUM and add 1 cup dry white rice to the skillet. Stir fry dry rice in the mixture until grains begin to darken, moving often with spoon to prevent sticking. If desired, you can add saffron or turmeric to taste. I used a scant teaspoon of ground turmeric (the much cheaper option).

 
Add shrimp last.

Hey, who're YOU callin' a shrimp???

Chef’s Note:

If you like to cook with saffron and are looking for ways to reduce the cost of the pricey threads (anywhere from $12-19 a bottle at a regular grocery store!), either try stretching a saffron rice pouch (usually around 50 cents) or consider going halfsies on a bottle with a neighbor or coworker.Finished paella.

Clean baby food jars make excellent spice storage for splitting/sharing expensive spices because baby food is not spiced, and metal jar lids will not have soaked up other strong odors before storing your spices. Also, they are ubiquitously available and a perfect size.

Once rice is coated, add 2-1/2 cups water to the mixture and stir well. Cover immediately. Simmer about 25 minutes, stirring often, until rice is mostly tender and excess liquid is absorbed. I like to err on the side of “saucy”; you can reduce water a little if you want a drier skillet. If necessary, add additional water or margarine to rice during cook time to tenderize the rice. When rice is almost done, add the cooked shrimp. Stir until shrimp is uniformly heated; remove from burner.

Garnish with tarragon or fresh parsley if desired. Sweet iced tea makes a lovely companion.

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