We were having a group to dinner over the President’s Day weekend. I saw it as a great opportunity to cook something substantial. I hit upon making a paella for a couple of reasons. I’d read an article in Saveur written by David Rosengarten. In it, Chef Rosengarten had gone to the source: the cradle of Spanish paella making, Valencia. What inspired me the most was that the original recipe, dating from the early 1800s, called saffron-scented rice cooked with Rabbit, chicken, Snails and three kinds of beans. Rosengarten pointed out that you can still find that version all over Valencia. But the list of paellas does not stop there. There are seafood paellas, vegetable paellas and paellas using all kinds of meats. The recipe is wildly adaptable because as Rosengarten pointed out: “Tinkering, it seems, is inherent to the culture of paella.” And it’s to be remembered that “Paella” refers the wide, shallow steel pan in which such dishes were cooked. In my case, all I really needed was a good basic recipe from which to build my paella. And as to its ingredients, well I just went shopping in my freezer. There I found the chicken thighs, hot Italian sausage and shrimp that would form the backbone of what turned out to be a delicious and terrifically well-received dish. Although no thanks to the recipe I found for Birthday Party Paella.
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