About four times a year I attempt to make paella. Until last week, I always failed miserably. Somehow my rice always end up overcooked/undercooked or I end up with a pilaf instead of a paella or it just ends up tasting awful. One time I put in too much soy chorizo, and it was so salty that I had to serve this rice dish with a side of rice just to keep from shriveling up like a slug.
Finally, after years of attempts, I have finally made a delicious paella that was only improved by being slightly burnt (a common problem in my cooking).
1/8 cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
6 oz Trader Joe's Soy Chorizo (remove outer casing and crumble)
4 Slices Morningstar "Bacon"cut into small strips
1/2 of a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
1 cup liquid from the can of diced tomatoes
1 cup water
1 cup rice
1/2 cup green peas (frozen or fresh is preferred)
1/2 cup corn (frozen or fresh is preferred)
Black Pepper (to taste)
(At this point, I ran out of ingredients in my refrigerator, but you can add peppers, artichoke hearts, or anything else that you wish)
Heat the olive oil in a paella pan (or a cast iron skillet) and sauté the onion until is slightly browned. Add the garlic and sauté it briefly before adding the ersatz meat products. Allow the bacon and chorizo to brown. At the same time, heat the tomato juice and water in a separate saucepan until simmering.
Pour the rice into the paella pan and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 3 minutes.
Add the simmering tomato liquid to the paella pan and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes or until the rice is almost tender and almost all of the liquid has been absorbed. Stir in the peas and corn.
Continue cooking until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. At this point, I noticed that the rice on the bottom of the pan was beginning to burn slightly while the rice on top was still undercooked, so I put a lid on the pan to help cook the rice on top.
Sprinkle with some lemon juice before serving (don't skip this step, it really makes a huge difference).
In spite of the burnt rice at the bottom, this was the most successful paella that I have ever made. Paella is supposed to have a crispy bottom, but because of my inaccurate burners, it was very hard to get a good medium temperature. Hopefully you will have more luck than I did. Fortunately, the burnt rice was not the disaster that many would assume it would be. I was careful not to scrape the bottom when serving, but the few blackened grains that ended up in the final product added a nice textural and flavor contrast to the sweet grains in the soft paella.