The folks from Aneto traveled all the way from Barcelona, Spain to Seattle, Washington to share their product at the International Food Bloggers Conference [IFBC] last month, and each time I had the occasion to speak with them throughout the weekend I became more and more impressed with their dedication to quality and their passion for their product. But “fancy words won’t feed the bulldog,” as my Dad might have said, so once I got home, I started to experiment. I wanted to find out if their product was as good as they claimed.
Before I go any farther, I should tell you that I am very sensitive to “processed taste”: the intermingled flavor of box or can, preservatives and flavor enhancers – to the point that I avoid nearly all prepared soups, stocks, and broths, as the high water content seems to absorb such processed flavors without fail. So it was with pleasant surprise that I found Aneto’s Valencian Paella Base to taste as close to “homemade” as I have experienced from a processed product in very long time. This shouldn’t be surprising though: the ingredient list – completely devoid of anything chemical-sounding or unpronounceable – reads like a card from your great-grandma’s recipe file: Chicken broth made with water, chicken, onion, carrot, cabbage, leek, celery, and sea salt. Sauteed vegetables made with rabbit, duck, tomato, virgin olive oil, ferraura beans, garrofon beans, snails, saffron and rosemary. That’s it.
Traditionally, Valencian Paella is cooked over an open fire, fueled by orange and pine branches. This cooking method produces an aromatic smoke which infuses the paella. I really liked that Aneto’s Valencian Paella Base is seasoned such that some of this old-world flavor finds its way into the paella, even when cooked on top of a modern stove.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 8 oz Spanish-style chorizo, cut into ¼ inch pieces
- 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1" pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1¼ cups short-grain white rice (I use Arborio rice)
- 2½ - 3 cups Aneto Valencian Paella Base (I found that I needed more)
- 1 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
- 1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and deveined, tail attached
- Chopped Italian parsley
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a deep 12-inch heavy skillet or paella pan over medium-high heat. (I used a heavy-duty wok, and it worked perfectly.) Add chorizo and chicken and stir until chorizo is golden and chicken is cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add remaining tablespoon oil, garlic, onion and bell pepper to pan. Add paprika and saute for 5 minutes, or until peppers and onion are golden.
- Stir in rice, broth and saffron, and bring to a rolling boil, uncovered. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 8-10 minutes..Stir in the shrimp and cook, covered, until shrimp are cooked through, about 4 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in cooked chicken and chorizo. Cover with a kitchen towel and let stand about 5 minutes more, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
Mr. B loved this paella so much that he took it in his lunch every day for a week straight! Which reminds me – Paella is traditionally a party dish, and you can easily feed a small army with one batch!
A few words about Saffron: I’m just wild about saffron. (If you are over 40, you just smiled.) Anyway, did you know that saffron is the single most expensive cooking ingredient on the planet? More expensive per ounce than truffles or good French wine. And TOTALLY worth it! You can make this recipe without the saffron, or you can substitute in turmeric, but really, there is nothing in the world that tastes like saffron except, well – saffron. (Just to keep Karma happy, when purchasing saffron, please be sure to look for an organic, Fair Trade product.)
Aneto products can be found at Whole Foods and online at Amazon.com.
This recipe is an adaptation of “” by Chef Abel Monago, Chief Cook of Research & Development for the Aneto Soup Company, and was originally published (to my knowledge) on Mollie’s Kitchen.
Here are a few more recipes from IFBC food bloggers using Aneto Products:
- Garden Carrot Soup [Gapey’s Grub]
- Roasted Squash Soup with Chanterelles & Crisp Bacon [Gluten-Free Yummy]
- Valencian Paella Tomato Soup [Haute Mealz]
Disclosure: As an IFBC 2014 attendee, I received free Aneto products and the cool apron pictured above. I received no other compensations for this post, and all opinions are my own.