I think I must have been Spanish in past lives. When we went to Spain a few years ago, I absolutely fell in love with the whole country, its culture and especially the food. I would be a very happy camper if I was ever lucky enough to live in Spain and to call Spain home.
My latest Spanish culinary adventure led me to a delicious chicken paella styled casserole. And the best part …. you guessed it. I got to use my leftovers! I even served it Spanish style, with warmed ciabatta with an olive oil dipping sauce, and a cool Spanish salad on the side. I would have served it with a cool Spanish Albarino wine too, but it was not chilled.
Paella was originally the food of he people. It was “farmer’s food”, made with rice and whatever else was on hand at the time. It varies from region to region. Sometimes it is made with chicken and/or sausage, sometimes it is made with wild game, sometimes it is made with different seafood, and sometimes, it is vegetarian. There are so many endless possibilities of how to make and perfect a good paella.
Paella is also known as a very social dish. It is perfect for all kinds of gatherings and occasions. In Spain paella is still unique. Not only do families congregate on mass to eat paella in restaurants, but it is often cooked at weekends at holiday homes in ‘bodegas’ or ‘txokos’ (large dining areas where families gather) or at beach or mountain picnic sites. There are many paella competitions all over Spain and very often a giant paella is the centerpiece for many fiestas.
Chicken Paella Casserole
1 1/2-2 lbs cooked, shredded chicken
1 cup cooked sausage or chorizo
1 cup onions, diced medium
1 large tomato, diced medium
1 heaping TBSP garlic
salt & pepper to taste
cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes to taste
1 red bell pepper, diced medium
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup frozen peas
1/3 cup Peruvian peppers, optional
1/2 cup olives – I love mixing my olives, so I used 3 different kinds, including some Spanish olives
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup tomato paste or marinara sauce
2 TBSP flour
1 tsp turmeric and/or saffron
1/3 cup sour cream
Combine the cooked chicken with the olives, rice, tomatoes and peas and set aside.
Mix the onions, peppers, and sausage together and set aside.
Add the milk, tomato paste or marinara sauce, salt, pepper and flour together in a saucepan.
Preheat the oven to 375* F or 200*C.
Saute the onion and pepper mixture in olive oil for about 7 minutes, or until the peppers and onions are softened and the onions are translucent and the sausage is completely cooked.
Cook the milk mixture over a medium flame and whisk together constantly, bring to a boil and continue to cook for about a minute or until it thickens. Remove from the heat and mix in the sour cream.
Once everything is cooked, combine it all together and mix well.
Spray a 9×13 baking sheet with cooking spray, then evenly spread the mixture into the pan. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 20-25 minutes, then remove the foil, and continue to bake for an additional 15 minutes or so.
When it is ready, serve it along side your favorite side dishes. My Spanish salad was simple mixed greens with diced tomatoes, hearts of palm and artichoke hearts, with some Cotija cheese on top for Larry and almond slivers for me. I used some of my jalapeno-lime vinaigrette as the dressing too. It’s Salad Weather Again
It was a perfect Spring/Summer kind of meal, especially out on our deck al fresco style. !Desfruitas! 🙂
Enjoy your days and stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.