Pork and Watercress Paella

I have three different paella pans in different sizes, and I use them all.  But you can easily make paella in a large straight-sided saute pan.  I learned to make paella in Spain, and it is such a great one-pot meal to serve a few people or a big crowd.  This recipe uses pork loin and watercress, but you can certainly substitute spinach for the watercress if it’s difficult to find.

Ingredients (serves 8):

2 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp. crumbled thread saffron
1 pound boneless pork loin, cut in ½” cubes
Kosher salt
4 tbsp. olive oil
¾ cup chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 bunch (about ½ pound) watercress, thick stems trimmed, and chopped (about 3 cups)
2 tbsps. minced parsley
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. sweet paprika, preferably Spanish smoked
2 cups short grain or Arborio rice
½ cup cooked white beans, drained and rinsed
½ pound small cooked red potatoes, peeled and cut in quarters or eighths

Method: Combine the broth and saffron in a pot and keep over the lowest heat.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Sprinkle the pork cubes all over with salt.  Heat the oil in a paella pan or shallow casserole measuring 13 inches at its widest point.  Saute the pork over high heat for 1-2 minutes and remove to a warm platter.  Add the onion, garlic, and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are slightly softened.  Add the watercress and parsley, cook 1 minute to wilt the watercress, then mix in the cumin and paprika.  Stir in the rice and coat well with the pan mixture.  Pour in all the hot broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in the beans and pork, taste for salt, and continue boiling, stirring occasionally until the rice is no longer soupy but sufficient liquid remains to continue cooking the rice, about 5 minutes.  Mix in the cooked potatoes and transfer to oven.  Cook, uncovered, until the rice is almost al dente, 10-12 minutes.  Remove to a warm spot, cover with foil, and let sit 5-10 minutes until the rice is cooked to taste.

MainsEvan Wei-HaasHolidays