We made paella on a budget the other night, and it was awesomeness! Two considerations for us were cost, and the fact that we had two vegetarians, and we didn't want them to have too much trouble picking out the meat and seafood, so we stuck to big chunks of chorizo, which they could easily spot. Also, we are fortunate in that LaTienda, a Spanish food importer, is based right here in Toano, of all places! So we can shop there. YOU are fortunate, in that they have a kick-ass website where you can order all foods Spanish: http://www.LaTienda.com.
I, BTW, cannot even THINK the word "paella" without thinking of the Fawlty Towers episode where Manuel makes (or talks a lot about making) his famous paella . . .
Here's the recipe - we were budgeting, and we have some great local fresh produce. My friend Alisa bought the veggies from a local farmer's market, and we went to LaTienda for the Spanish foods. I always keep smoked paprikas on hand - they add so much flavor! Anyway, here's the recipe we improv'd:
1/4 c. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt (we had some French salt, but you can use kosher or sea salt)
fresh ground black pepper
2 teaspoons paprika - we used Spanish smoked paprika (the "bittersweet" style, from LaTienda)
1 large white onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow summer squash, diced
1 large (we used a ginormous one) bell pepper, diced
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
8 oz. Spanish style chorizo links (we got ours at LaTienda) - some recipes call for 1 pound, we went quality over quantity!!
4.5 cups chicken broth
2 cups short-grain rice (we used Bomba Spanish rice - it is awesome! you can sub Arborio)
pinch of saffron threads (don't hate us, but we skipped this, to save dinero)
Heat a paella pan or very large shallow skillet - a big cast-iron skillet is awesome, but I used my flat-bottomed cast-iron wok my cousin Shelia gave me a few years ago (thank you Shelia, I love my wok!!)
Pour in the olive oil, and heat to medium. Add the paprika, and stir it into the oil. Add the onions and the bell pepper, and sauté until softened. Stir in the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, and chorizo. Cook that about 5 minutes, and add the veggies. Bring the liquid to a boil, and then stir in the rice. Cook without stirring for about 20 minutes.
I noticed that I did add a little more olive oil as I was cooking - use the salt and pepper to taste; I tend to throw in pinches while I'm cooking - you know your own taste :-)
We bought picos (little Spanish tapas breadsticks), cheese, and anchovy-stuffed olives to use as apps and to eat along with the paella, and had a great fresh salad Alisa made - with a great vinaigrette she made. We thought another touch which would be great would be do mince the anchovy-stuffed-olives and add to the vinaigrette!
OH!! and the SANGRIA:
2 cups simple syrup (sugar water - dissolve sugar in warm water) - this part is to your own taste, k? I didn't put much sugar in the syrup, so you have to gauge this to your own liking
1 24 oz (750 ml) bottle red wine (I used 3-buck-Chuck)
1/2 c. orange juice
10 oz. Tonic water
thinly sliced oranges, lemons, apples, or whatever you have on hand
Mix, pour over ice, enjoy - I DID punch this one up with about 3/4 c. of Trapiche Malbec (Argentina) - and that made it JUST RIGHT :-)