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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Poor Man's Paella

One of the main ingredients for a great Paella is Saffron. Saffron is hard to find in Costa Rica, but Achiote Paste is available everywhere, and it is also a cheap ingredient.


Herb Blend
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup chopped cilantro
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup of fresh lemon juice
½ pound of Andouille sausage
1 pound raw shrimp
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon red chili flakes or 2 chili de arbol
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Achiote* paste
1 medium onion diced
1 sweet red pepper diced
2 cloves garlic minced
1 cup of diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup of corn kernels
1.5 cups Arborio rice
2 tablespoons of chopped basil
1 tablespoon of drained and diced Pimento peppers

  • Cook the Andouille Sausage and allow the sausage to cool completely. Once cooled, cut the sausage into ¼” - ½” coins and set aside.
  • Clean and peel the shrimp, leaving the tails, and set aside.
  • Prepare the Herb Blend and set aside.
  • Prepare the Broth with the chicken stock, smoked Spanish paprika, turmeric, chili flakes and salt in a small saucepan. Bring the broth just to a simmer and keep warm.
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet, or paella pan, over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When oil is hot, add the achiote paste. Once melted, add the onion and sweet peppers and sauté for 5 minutes, until they are softened and turning translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.
  • Add the rice and stir fry until the rice is completed coated with the oil and achiote.
  • Stir in the seasoned broth and bring to a simmer.
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Add in the sliced sausage and cook for about 5 more minutes.
  • Arrange the shrimp on top, pressing the heads into the rice, leaving the tails exposed. Continue cooking for 10 more minutes or so, until liquid is evaporated and the rice is almost thoroughly cooked.
  • The secret to great Paella is the socarrat, the crusty crispy bottom of the paella that becomes caramelized and toasted on the bottom of the pan. When the rice is almost finished cooking, take the pan with the paella off of the heat, cover it, and let the rice absorb any remaining liquid. This will let the rest of the rice continue to cook while the heat from the bottom of the pan creates a crust.
  • Sprinkle chopped basil and the diced & drained Pimento Peppers on top and serve.
* Achiote Paste can be found in most supermarkets in the Latino food aisle.

This is also delicious with the addition of mussels, shredded chicken, etc.

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