Patti’s Saga of an RV Rookie: Patti’s Spanish Paella…been there, ate that.

author image

May 17, 2011

Spain. My heart races writing the word.  I come from hard core Midwestern RVing stock who said on at least 436 occasions, “Why do people go to Europe when the United States is the most beautiful country in the world? “ But when I saw pictures of Spain in my fourth grade schoolbook,  I knew I had to go. And I did. And that I had to go again, and again. And I did. Which brings me to the Spanish gift I want to give  you: my paella (pronounced “pah-AY-yuh”) recipe adapted for RV kitchens and my own rather dull palate. I hope you like it.

I love paella. What’s not to love about toasty rice, tomatoes, veggies, and any combination of meat or fish that exists, all  made and served in the same large skillet? I’ve eaten paella all over Spain and have proof this dish, originally made for laborers over open fires in  fields, is fantastic. My proof?  I’ve hauled groups of hormone addled, picky- eating adolescents to Spain more than once , and if  8th grade pizza and burger addicted kids love paella, I’m telling you, paella is good.

Full disclosure:  I don’t fancy myself  a “cook” , and my tastes run to the pedestrian. I’ve eyed grilled cheese sandwiches with deep suspicion. Basically, if something ever had a mother or a face,  I don’t like it. So, I confess the following recipe does not include many things typically found in various traditional paellas: ducks, rabbits, land snails, clams, shrimp, eels, lobster, mussels, cuttlefish and eye of newt and toe of  frog. OK, I stole the last two things from William Shakespeare who I’ve heard never RV’d, but yes, authentic paella can contain just about anything that walks, swims or grows in any given region of Spain. People have fought to the death over the meaning of “paella” but it pretty much comes down to “pan.” You’ll find about 50 billion recipes for paella on the internet; one is bound to please  your loved ones.

Here’s a paella I make for my family (they’ll eat anything and actually prefer that it once had a mother or a face).

Patti’s Paella con Chicken and Sausage

(This works great in my RV’s electric skillet. )

Makes: about 4 servings

Time: About 45 minutes to an hour


  • 2 + tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces Italian sausage, hot or mild. Italian sausage is always available but ideally, use crumbled up Spanish chorizo if you can find it.
  • 2 cups cut up chicken (meaty parts that you like)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1  bell pepper any color, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup brown rice ( There’s a million types of rice; pick what you like)
  • 2 cups water (or half water/half chicken broth)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 -2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup  frozen peas
  • A large pinch of saffron if you can find it, but it’s fine without it.
  • Chopped parsley
  • Several lemon slices

Make it:

  1. Put cut chicken pieces  in olive oil in electric skillet ( or whatever skillet you have)  over medium-high heat. Keep turning as it cooks. Turn off RV smoke detector (:
  2. When chicken is mostly cooked (10 minutes or so?)  add crumbled sausage stirring occasionally, until light brown, maybe 3 or 4  minutes.
  3. Lower heat. Add  onions, bell peppers, and garlic and cook until the onion turns translucent, 3 to 5 minutes more. Stir often.
  4. Stir in rice, salt, pepper and saffron. Keep stirring; cook until rice is shiny and coated with oil, 3 or 4 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped tomato and water/chicken broth. Stir and lower heat to simmer. Keep lid on.

Cook  30 minutes before checking for doneness; then add a little broth or water if the rice is dry but not yet tender.

Rice  should be tender with liquid absorbed; may take a few more minutes. Throw the peas on top until they’re hot but still crunchy. Mushy peas are nasty.

NOTE:   I LOVE paella with the crunchy toasted rice on the bottom of the pan (called “soccarat”), so I uncover the pot when everything is done, shove most of the rice to the bottom,  and turn the heat up so the rice sizzles. Cook, without stirring, until you can smell the rice toasting (but not burning), then turn off the heat. The best paella always has the crunchy rice on the bottom.

Season with salt and pepper and a bit of saffron if you have it.

Top  with parsley and lemon wedges.

You can mix the paella all together, but I  leave the toasted rice on the bottom instead, because that’s how it was served in Spain. Only once there did I have paella all mixed together. That trip was with students, and one of my 8th grade boys, an overly articulate culinary expert who by then had eaten paella several different places on our tour,  said, “Why did they mix it all together? The rice should be on the bottom.  That’s like…totally  stupid.” Sigh…

  • Serve with simple garden salad, and chunks of good bread with olive oil on the side. However, paella typically stands alone, served with a good wine.

Paella is the ultimate flexible dish. You can adapt it to your own taste in just about any way. Play with it!

Here’s to happy tales and memories of Spain. Let me know how the paella worked for you!


Leave a Reply


  1. Patti Faustini

    Hey Eric, I’m so glad the Paella was great. And especially glad you are all home safe. That kind of driving is really harrowing. Wind is the worst! And regarding duct tape? I’ve always thought there should have been an extra day mentioned in Genesis: “And on the 8th day, God made duct tape!”
    (My husband just added, “…and bailing wire.”

    Happy tales to you and yours,


  2. eric

    Hi Patti,

    Well, our first outing of the 2011 season was a blast… mostly! We had a great deal of fun, walked forEVER, and topped it all off Saturday night with your Paella recipe (we even found Chorizo!) Of course, when we got back to the RV and decided it was time to start cooking, yours truly realized the recipe was still sitting on my desk at work! Thank goodness for smart phones and ‘Droid!

    We had to make a couple of modifications, mostly because our skillet was much too small for all the ingredients!

    But in the end, the Paella was just about the highlight of the weekend! We loved it, and are already planning on cooking it on our BIG Wyoming camping trip in August… there’ll be 10 of us.

    The trip home was NOT so fun, though. Pulling a 30 foot trailer in VERY high crosswinds is not fun to begin with, but then add to it, the SIDING of the trailer beginning to peal away in the wind! We got home 3 hours late, and all I can say is, thank heavens for Duct Tape!


  3. Patti Faustini

    Eric….aghhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!! No, I do not think the instant rice will work. The cooking times will be all out of whack.

    And thank you for your generous comment about how difficult it is to miss road debris. I may have to write a blog about the deer that almost kissed the front of our car yesterday. It’s endless!

    Happy tales, and have a great first outing.


  4. eric

    Oh gracious. And here I thought you did something dumb! Road hazards are just that. They can be very damaging, and almost impossible to miss. No one can reasonably hold someone responsible for hitting debris on the road!

    Hey any opinion on using instant rice vs “normal” rice?

  5. Patti Faustini

    Hey Eric, great hearing from you! Let me know how your Paella turns out this weekend. Oh…and regarding the dings I put on our new RV?

    sigh…it’s the blog above on related posts called “Life on the Road, or How to Destroy Your New Hubcaps While Your Husband Faints.” I still grieve that I did that. I walked past the View just yesterday, thinking about how great it looked when we drove off the lot–and how I get ahold of it and within a week hubcaps are gone and a side panel missing!

    Happy tales, and have a first great Spring outing.


  6. eric

    Our first trip of the year is coming up this weekend. I already have the “Let’s Get a Move-On” fever!

    Did I miss the story about the ‘dings’?

    I am NOT the chef of our family… I haven’t gotten the hang (after 40 some years of trying) of getting a meal together at the same time… we have multi-course dinners when I cook… the meat… then a veggie… then another veggie… then the… well, you get the idea.

    That said… Saturday night I am cooking this Paella! Oh, and if you really want the name to sound right, call it ‘Patti’s Paella con Pollo y Chorizo!’

    This untalented hack-cook will let you all know how it goes when we get done (unless we end up having wi-fi access somehow!)

  7. Patti Faustini

    Oh, and Butterbean…I have quit crying over the dings I’ve injected in our new View, but I am still not amused at myself. Sigh… This unit is so cool and I almost trashed it right away! Good thing I have a wonderful husband.

    Happy Tales,


  8. Patti Faustini

    Now Butterbean..there is a bit of garlic in the recipe, but I forgive you. However, it isn’t much garlic, I’ll grant you! I’m thinking folks can go crazy with their own spices. I’m also thinking I’ve eaten jalepenos and chiles all over Mexico but didn’t see them all that much in Spain. The flavoring in Spain seemed more subtle to me, hence, things like saffron. But….I have to tell you…I actually like really hot, spicy food so I throw whatever delights me in paella!

    I hope you make paella,and tell us about it. I bet it’ll be great!

    Happy tales to you and yours,


  9. butterbean carpenter

    Howdy Patti,

    How come no garlic,jalapenos or chiles?? Sounds bland, but we’ll ‘fix’ that !! Thanks, for all of your suggestions…. Have you stopped crying over the ‘dings’, yet ???

    Smooth roads & balmy breezes !!!!!!!!!

  10. Patti Faustini

    Hey Corey, great hearing from you. If you try the paella, let me know how you liked it!

    Happy tales, Patti

  11. Corey

    Sounds really good! Looks like I have a plan for dinner tonight.