11 Down; 3 To Go

Paella became a family favorite thanks to Angela, a housekeeper who watched John and his brother when they were in elementary school and who cooked a Cuban meal for the family each Tuesday while their mother attended classes to earn her Master’s Degree at the University of Miami.

Angela fled Cuba with her family and took refuge in Colombia for a time while awaiting a visa to the United States. As a result, her recipe combines both Cuban and Colombian traditions, making it a little different than other paella recipes.

For years, John’s mom promised to teach us how to make paella. Unfortunately, it never happened. On more than one occasion, she’d start explaining the process but would get distracted and never completed the directions. And of course, she never wrote down a recipe.

IMG_7645So we decided that one of our goals on our 14 in 14 list was to recreate the paella recipe. I cultivated about a dozen recipes that we used to find the proper ingredients and cooking tips. This was more difficult than expected since we don’t use mussels or calamari in our version of paella. And while it’s not perfect, it’s close enough to claim success. We’ll continue to tweak the recipe, but in the meantime, paella will make a reappearance on our table.

Ingredients: (serves 6-8)

  • one boneless butterflied pork chop
  • two chicken thighs
  • 1/2 pound bay scallops
  • 1/2 pound cod filet
  • 2/3 pound shrimp
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 Tablespoons Safrito
  • Ocho Rios Complete (use to season meat as cooking)
  • 4 cups rice
  • 1 can ( 8.5oz) Le Sueur peas
  • Adobo powder (to taste)
  • Optional: Canned asparagus and pimento


  1. Heat 2 teaspoons butter on medium in a large Dutch Oven.
  2. Season scallops with Ocho Rios and then add scallops to hot pan and cook for about 4 minutes.
  3. Remove scallops from pan and add another teaspoon of olive oil.
  4. Season cod with Ocho Rios and cook fish ’til flaky.
  5. Set the fish aside and add another teaspoon of olive oil to pan.
  6. Season pork chop with Ocho Rios and brown on both sides.
  7. Set aside pork chop and add approximately 6 cups of water to the pan and bring to a boil.
  8. Add the chicken thighs and the pork chop to the boiling water ’til cooked thoroughly. (The pork chop will cook more quickly than the chicken.)
  9. Reserve 4 cups of the liquid in the pan, bring back to a boil, add 2 cups of rice and cook according to package directions.*Add shrimp after 12 minutes – see step 10.
  10. After 12 minutes fold shrimp in rice and cover for the remaining 8 minutes.
  11. Dice pork chop. Skin and dice chicken. Pull fish apart while the rice is cooking.
  12. Add pork chop, chicken, fish, and scallops to rice and fold in 8 Tablespoons of Safrito.
  13. Season with Adobo according to taste.
  14. Add peas and then place in oven at 250º for approximately 30 minutes or until ready to serve.
  15. Optional: If desired, top paella with asparagus and pimento before placing in the oven.

Serve with Cuban bread, salad, and sangria or wine.


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