Paella is a party dish. The kind of endeavor you’d only undertake if you plan on feeding at least 10, if not 100, people.
And yet, it’s the perfect after-work comfort food. Rice, perfumed with all that decadent saffron. The charred smoky garlickiness of the chorizo. The elegance of the seafood. The sweet onions and bright bursting peas. Everything in one perfect pot. Elegant and down to earth all at once.
So I set about devising the perfect weeknight paella for two, and it’s so good and easy. I use boil-in-the-bag rice, although you could use whatever white rice you like. I sauté together some good dry Spanish chorizo and olive oil, shallots and shrimps, green peas and parsley. Then I add in the rice and some saffron, and finish it all together in a big pan. If I’m feeling ambitious, I finish it off under the broiler to get that top layer of rice nice and crisp—like it is at the edges of those big Spanish paella pans.
The result is a hot and hearty dinner, full of sausage and shrimps and rice and green peas, that’s at the same time a bit luxurious and exotic. And—the best part—everything is already on-hand. I have my shrimp and peas in the freezer. My chorizo, rice, and shallots in the pantry. In fifteen minutes, we have a paella party.
From my weekly column Dinner for Two on Serious Eats. Check it out every Friday!
- 1/4 teaspoon (not packed) saffron
- 8 1/2 ounces parboiled white rice (preferable cook-in-the-bag rice)
- Salt and pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 ounces Spanish chorizo, sliced into thin coins
- 1 large shallot, sliced
- 20 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Put the saffron in a small bowl and cover with 2 tablespoons of boiling water. Set aside to steep. Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package instructions. Then drain, and set aside.
While the rice is cooking, heat the olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook for 1 minute. Add the shallot and cook for 45 seconds, stirring often. Add the shrimp, and cook until almost completely pink. Then add the peas, and cook until the shrimp are pink and opaque and the peas thawed.
Push the shrimp and chorizo to the side of the pan and add the drained rice in the center. Add the saffron and its water. Stir the saffron into the rice and cook until the pan is dry. Then, stir in the shrimp and chorizo and peas from the corners of the pan. Stir in the parsley and serve!
Optional step: place the paella in an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish, and drizzle the top with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Place under a hot broiler just until the rice turns slightly crisp.print this recipe