Photo by Stacey Ballis

Get in there

Stacey Ballis
December 11, 2018

I’m a huge fan of a one-dish breakfast or brunch recipe. Anything that can be made ahead and reheated, cooked in a slow cooker, or at least assembled or prepped in advance encourages morning entertaining, and makes visiting houseguests feel most welcome. But in general, these dishes are either sweet (casseroles of French toast in a bread pudding style) or baked (pans of cinnamon rolls), or egg-based (savory stratas or quiches). There is nothing wrong with any of that, but every once in a while you want to shake something up, give your guests a bit of a fun surprise.

I recently donated a dinner party in my kitchen to a charity auction, and the company that donated the wines exclusively deals in Spanish and Portuguese wines. So my co-chef and I developed a Spanish menu to delight the guests, and she and I made my first-ever paella. While I am not a fan of shellfish, I do love the non-seafood paellas. Give me some chorizo or chicken and I will be scraping socarrat of the bottom of your dish in no time. But I’d never attempted one at home; for some reason the prospect seemed daunting. Luckily my co-chef had done it before, and we chose a classic Valenciana version with chicken, rabbit, and snails, and by the end of the night I was shocked at how actually simple the whole thing had been.

I also love the communal nature of eating paella. The dish comes right to the table and everyone gets a spoon, and serves themselves from their corner of the pan, digging through the layers of rice and vegetables and meat and really scraping to get that crispy rice layer on the bottom. It is fun and friendly and absolutely perfect for a one-pan brunch dish. So I breakfasted one up for you.

Swapping out smoked sausage and bacon for the usual proteins, and adding some hard-boiled eggs on top, the paella got a morning makeover that worked really well. And you don’t even need to have a traditional paella pan, a 15-inch skillet will be totally fine. Serve with a side salad of sliced oranges and red onion with black olives and a sparkling cava and you’ll have a sort of Spanish brunch that will delight your friends and family.

Breakfast Paella

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

1 pound thick sliced bacon, cut into one inch pieces
14 ounce smoked sausage or polish sausage, cut into ½ inch coins
6 cups chicken stock
1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
Pinch saffron
Pinch cayenne
Extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 14.5-ounce can petite diced or crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can small white beans or baby lima beans, drained
2 cups short to medium grain rice, preferably Bomba rice
6 hard boiled eggs, halved
1 roasted red bell pepper (for garnish)
¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley (for garnish)

Directions

In a saucepan, place the chicken stock, saffron, smoked paprika and cayenne and set over medium low heat to simmer. When it comes to the simmer, reduce to low and let rest while you assemble the rest.

In a cold 15-16 inch paella pan (or skillet) put the bacon pieces in a single layer and set over two burners or one large burner if you have one. Set the heat to medium-low and gently cook the bacon to start to render the fat. You want the bacon to begin to get translucent, but not brown or crisp. Once the fat is rendering out, add in the sausage and cook the mixture until both are hot and just starting to color around the edges. Move the bacon and sausage to the edges of the pan, revealing an empty center. Add about a tablespoon of oil to the bacon fat in the center, and add the onion, stirring to cook until just tender, but not browned. Add the beans and mix with the onions and cook for about one minute. Using two spoons, combine the meat mixture with the onion mixture, then push the combined to the edges of the pan again.

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

If the center of the pan looks dry, add another half tablespoon of olive oil and pour the tomatoes into the center. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring regularly, until the tomatoes darken and thicken. Again using 2 spoons, combine the tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients in the pan. Sprinkle the rice evenly over the top, then using your 2 spoons, combine the rice evenly with the rest of the ingredients. Carefully pour 4 cups of your broth (or 5 cups if you are using Bomba rice) evenly over the rice and bring it to a simmer. Move the pan around periodically to ensure it is boiling evenly. Cook for about 7-9 minutes until the liquid is almost even with the rice mixture, but still sort of loose. If it seems like the liquid is being absorbed really fast, spoon some of your reserved stock over the top.

Move the pan to your oven and cook for about 15 more minutes. Check the pan about halfway through to see if the rice seems too crunchy, and spoon over more stock if needed. Rotate the pan to ensure even cooking. After 15 minutes check a small spoonful of rice to make sure it is cooked and only a little bit al dente. If it needs more time, check again in 3 minutes.

Remove from the oven and cover with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle parsley all over the top, then arrange the hard boiled egg halves around the edge. Decorate with roasted red pepper slices, and serve right in the pan, with lemon wedges.

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