Make-ahead Paella to Please a Crowd

By Liliana Moyano for Shine Latina

Paella for all the primos Paella for all the primos

In Latin America, it is very common to have an extended family composed of close friends we like to call primos or cousins. In addition to biological cousins, primos are people we grew up with- neighbors, school mates, lifelong family friends. Growing up in Colombia, having four sisters in the family meant four times the number of cousins and friends to attend parties and family gathering. You can imagine my mom's difficulty when it came time to cook for everyone!

One year for one of my sister's birthdays, mom decided to make two big pans of paella the night before. Then, the day of the party, all she had to do was heat the paella in the oven, and serve it with crusty French bread. All the primos loved the dish and helped themselves to multiple seconds. My mom was ecstatic to have found a formula that helped her feed the entire family, and at the same time allow her to enjoy the party out of the kitchen.

Paella for all the primos Paella for all the primos This is a perfect recipe for feeding the crowds at holiday parties, especially when we want to throw a big fiesta but take part in the fun as well.

Vamos a paellar…

Paella for all the primos Paella for all the primos

(20 servings)
12 tbsp. olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, peeled and cut in half
8 cups parboiled rice
8 cups water
1 tbsp. sea salt


Pour the olive oil into a pan set at medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion, and let the flavors blend for two minutes. Next, add the rice and 7 1/2 cups of water, stirring with a wooden spoon. In a cup or small bowl, mix the left over water and salt, and pour over the rice stirring well. Raise the heat to medium, and let the rice cook until the water has almost evaporated completely. At this point, bring the heat down to low, and cover the rice. Cook it on low for 22 minutes without uncovering the pan. Once the rice has finished cooking, remove the onion halves and discard.

Try this recipe with my garbanzo beans for a culinary salute to Spain

Paella mix
Paella for all the primos Paella for all the primos (20 servings)

5 tbsp. olive oil

1 lb. chicken breast, chopped

1 lb. sausage, chopped

2 tbsp. saffron

1 tsp. all-purpose seasoning

16 oz. Spanish sofrito

2 lbs. shrimp

8 oz. green olives, chopped

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 yellow bell pepper, julienned

2 lbs. fresh mussels

¼ cup white zinfandel wine

1/2 cup sweet peas

10 limes, quartered

3 French baguettes, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Add olive oil to a large pan or wok set at medium heat. Add the chicken breast to the pan, and cook for 7 to 8 minutes, or until it's fully cooked. Remove the chicken, and set it aside in a separate plate. Add the sausage to the large pan, and cook it for 8 to 10 minutes until browned.

Place the sausage and chicken in a large aluminum baking tray, and start adding the rice, saffron and all-purpose seasoning. Continue by adding the remainder of the rice. Mix in the Spanish sofrito. Stir the mixture gently with a wooden spoon. Add the shrimp, olives and bell peppers. Top the paella with fresh mussels and white wine. Cover the tray with foil paper, and bake for 1 hour. Top with sweet peas. Serve with lime wedges and French bread on the side.

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