Kosher Paella … But How?

It is easy to find restaurants in Mexico City that serve one of my all time favorite dishes – authentic Spanish Paella or Paella a la Valenciana.  However, Paella is not Kosher!
So several years ago, when I began to exclude pork and shellfish from my diet as part of keeping kosher, I never thought I would again be able to enjoy that rich, saffron flavored authentic taste of a Spanish Paella.   I was determined to find a way to adapt this delicious and unique dish to fit my dietary restrictions. I found that experimenting and innovating paid off, and allowed me to come up with my own kosher version of paella.

I have come to the conclusion that the most important ingredient in Paella, kosher or not, is a very high quality saffron.   I buy my saffron in the Persian markets here in Los Angeles; I do not recommend the saffron available in supermarkets.  For the rest of my flavoring, I turn to onion, garlic, red pimento, chicken and Kosher Polish Sausage.

Kosher Paella

4 cups Hot water or clear chicken stock

1 oz. high quality Saffron

1 teaspoon salt (optional added to the water)

12-18 chicken drumettes (the upper most portion of the chicken wing)

2-3 kosher Polish sausages cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 cup onion diced

1/2 cup fresh red pimento diced

2 garlic cloves minced

2 cups long grain white rice

1/2 cup sliced roasted pimentos from a jar

1 can black pitted olives

Dissolve the saffron in the 4 cups of hot water or chicken stock, add salt to the water if desired, and set it aside. Brown the chicken drumettes, skin intact, in a deep and large, dry, non-stick saucepan (at least 12″). Once evenly browned, remove the chicken and set it aside.  Add the sausage, brown it for a few minutes.  Remove the sausage and set aside. By now the bottom of the saucepan contains the oils from the chicken and the sausage. If the amount of oil exceeds about 2 tablespoons discard the excess. Add the onion to the still hot oil and stir it over medium to high heat until it becomes translucent. One at a time add in the fresh red pimento and the minced garlic, stirring thoroughly after each addition. Place the cup of saffron water in the microwave for 2 minutes because when you are ready to do so,  you want it nearly boiling when you pour it onto the rice.  Add the rice to the pan and stir it thoroughly for about 3 minutes and then add the jarred roasted pimentos.  Stir again and add the chicken, sausage and fish back into the saucepan and mix the rice combination for about another 3 minutes.  Raise the heat to high and add the saffron water and immediately add the black olives and stir them in. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and lower heat so that you have a high simmer. cook covered for about 15 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed and the rice has fluffed up. Serve hot…Olé!

11 responses

  1. I remember the first time I had this at your house, it might have been a Shabbat dinner, and the table was surrounded with people. I was hesitant to try the paella at first, as it was so different from any food I had ever tried,but Ariela convinced me to have a bite, and I am glad that I did. I think she said it was a dish you are known for!

    • Thank you so much Madeline I really appreciate your words and especially your memories of Shabbat dinner in our home so many years ago.

  2. As a fortunate beneficiary of this and so many of your other wonderful recipes, it is no wonder that I am sitting here with a full stomach and still somehow craving your wonderful Kosher paella.
    Love you, Gary

    • Esti I love that we are able to continue our friendship even if it is via food. It’s a treat for me to have you reading, makes me feel as though you’re just next door.

    • Hi Nechama,
      Thank you for pointing this out, I really do appreciate learning more about kashrut each day. Coming from a conservative background I was never aware of this until now and will certainly apply the law from now on. The imitation shrimp can simply be eliminated from the recipe – thanks again!

    • Hi Daniel,
      Thanks you so much for writing. I buy my Saffron at a Persian market and it costs me about $30 an oz. The quality of the saffron assures the true Paella flavor, but you can certainly use 1/2 oz. and see if that works.

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