The version we make most often is simpler, with chicken, artichoke hearts and chorizo. Those are ingredients I always have in the house, so it can be an impromptu dinner choice.
No matter your version, there are a few ingredients that you can't leave out. Saffron, pimento, garlic, and a Risotto like Spanish rice are the basis of a good Paella. From there , you can vary the main ingredients. Unless I'm making a vegetarian version, I never leave out Basque Chorizo either.
It's perfect for entertaining - you can assign an ingredient to each guest and you can all watch the process around the barbecue while enjoying a glass of wine!
The Basque Market in Boise carries Paella Pans, which are really reasonably priced. We have one for 6 servings, and another for 8-10. Hint: Paella leftovers are great - just don't store them in the Paella Pan.
FOR THE CHICKEN ARTICHOKE VERSION-
Ingredients: (amounts can be really loose!)
Chicken breast, cut in chunks
Basque Chorizo, also chunked
The Spanish Risotto
A can of Artichoke hearts (un-marinated kind)
Fresh Red, orange or yellow peppers, chopped
Fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, parsley (herbes de Provence are perfect here)
Start by putting about 4 cups of chicken broth, about 1/2 cup white wine, a pinch of saffron and the herbs in a pot to heat up. Let it simmer a little while the guests arrive (30-60 minutes is perfect).
Fire up the BBQ and heat up the Paella Pan with some olive oil in it. Saute chopped onions for a few minutes before adding the chopped colored peppers. Then the garlic. After a minute or so, add the chopped pimento's - then the chorizo and chicken. When the chorizo is browned, add the rice (about 1 1/2 cups for a six serving Paella, 2+ cups as you go up to the 8-10 serving, or larger pans (they come as large as 50 servings). Saute your rice a little- and add more olive oil if you need it. Add some of the broth mixture, let it simmer, then add more. Risotto is one of those rice's that you can add liquid to a little at a time. I do it in about 3 segments because I want to add the rest of my ingredients and close the lid.
With Paella, you don't want to stir it up once you add the artichokes and extra ingredients. Your ingredients sitting on the top make it a very showy dish. Let it cook with the lid closed on the BBQ until the liquid is absorbed. Plan on about an hour for the whole process. If you have your BBQ closer to your patio, your guests will be involved in the preparation and it's more fun.
Serve with a green salad and a good artesian bread. We just put the pan down in the middle of the table and let our guests help themselves to more than one serving!
Good fresh ingredients and whole foods - you can't beat that for good health! Take liberties with your ingredients and make sure you have plenty of color in your meal. Antioxidants are in your colorful foods!