I recently did a London to Edinburgh tour with Pam Farmer, a Group Leader from Rhode Island. Pam and I first met in Paris in 2010 at a Paris Training Tour, Pam does a lot of these as an experienced Group Leader and experienced she certainly is, having travelled with EF for 29 years. Anyway, Pam teaches Spanish at Bay View Academy and is, naturally, a lover of all things Spanish. One night we were discussing a trip I have planned to Boston and Pam immediately insisted I stay with her and her family and be a guest at one of her Paella parties. I know others from EF have enjoyed this rice and fish based hospitality, they can share their thoughts in the comments section below, and I also know I am in for a treat.
Anyway, I thought it would be a nice idea to share Pam’s Paella recipe (below) with you and get her to tell us a little about why she loves this particular dish. Meanwhile, if you want to see her in Paella action at home, then click here.
When did you first go to Spain?
I first went to Spain when I was a junior in High School with my Spanish teacher. I fell in love with the country, the people and the food
When did you first have Paella?
I went backpacking in 1982 and went to see the World Cup in Barcelona. My friend and I had it after the Brazil and Argentina game (Note from Paul – 3-1 to Brazil, Maradona sent off, I didn’t have to look it up, I assure you).
What is the secret to great Paella?
I think it is in the sofrito and using really fresh ingredients and making it very slowly in a paellera. The paellera is a pan that tilts outwards and it lets the steam escape so that the paella does not get soggy.
Is it easy to make for a beginner?
It takes practice to perfect but the more you make them, the better you get.
Where (other than at home) have you had the best Paella?
I remember we were in Tossa de Mar, north of Barcelona. Joe and I took our daughters Hannah and Elizah backpacking through Spain, France and Italy and spent a few days there. We spent the afternoon eating paella and drinking sangria and it was just wonderful.
For teachers and students touring Spain this summer – which other foods do you suggest they try?
Some of my favorite foods in Spain are tortilla de patata, boquerones (anchovies that are washed and soaked in white vinegar and marinated in garlic and olive oil. I love the croquetas and the patatas alioli and of course no trip to Spain can be complete without having some chocolate y churros! Don’t worry; your Tour Director will know the best place to get all of these.
(Pam’s Paella recipe is her own but she also recommends the Penelope Casas cookbook Tapas: the Little Dishes of Spain. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2007).
Pam’s Paella Recipe
Mixed Paella Serves: 6-8 Preparation time: 1-2 hours
½ pint of olive oil 10 mussels
10 clams 6oz piece of codfish
4 oz boneless pork, diced 2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 onion, chopped fine 1 tomato, skinned, seeded and chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips 1 green bell pepper chopped
1 yellow bell pepper chopped 1 large chicken cut up in 2-3 inch pieces
Salt and pepper to taste 1-teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon dried rosemary 8 jumbo shrimp or one lobster
24 oz calaspara rice 2 cups chicken broth
1/2-teaspoon saffron 4 oz peas
1lb uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined 4-tablespoon capers
Roasted red peppers sliced thin Lemon wedges, to garnish
2 chorizo sausages, cooked and cut into chunks
Heat 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a paella pan. Add the pork, and brown all sides and remove. In the paella pan, make a sofrito of the garlic, onions, tomato, and bell peppers, stirring constantly until cooked. Set aside. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. Season with salt, pepper, paprika, rosemary. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. In the same paella pan, cook the jumbo shrimp/lobster over high heat for several minutes until the shells turn pink. Set aside.
Scrub the mussels and clams. Boil in a pot with a piece of fish to make a fish broth and add the chicken broth to it. Remove the mussels and clams at the point of opening and set aside.
Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil in a paella pan and sauté the rice until it is translucent. Add sofrito Pour in the 2 cups of the broth, and combine well. Add the pork mixture, stirring constantly. With a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron and 1 tsp salt and add it to the rice.
Arrange the jumbo shrimp, chicken, chorizo sausages, mussels, clams, shrimp, peas, and capers.
Cook the paella, uncovered, for around 25 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Keep adding as needed.
Serve the paella straight from the pan, garnished with the roasted red peppers and a lemon wedge.