SATURDAY COOKING: PAELLA

I have wanted to try this for a while, and finally, last Saturday I attempted to cook PAELLA.

Some people I know are doubtful of my abilities to cook rice and some are also doubtful that I can cook noodles. Well, I was quite pleased with my paella, which means I CAN COOK RICE! As for the noodles, I’m sure I will try again and blog about another disaster…

I got his recipe from a Feast magazine, and after reading several recipes, I adapted that one slightly to suit my tastes (no mussels or clams or squid but chorizo).
One of the rules for making paella is that you leave the dish alone once all the ingredients are in the pan (no stirring like for risotto). Common ingredients include the best short-grain rice you can get (Calasparra rice from Spain), stock, sofrito (onion, garlic and tomatoes) and spices (saffron and smoked paprika, known as pimentón).

There are lots of different variations for paella, but try making it once and then play with the ingredients you can add (try a vegetarian version or a fish only one).

Read the recipe before you start, have all your ingredients ready and prepared and you will find that it is actually quite easy to make.

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2 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
400g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 5cm pieces
1 dry Spanish chorizo, sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 red capsicum, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón)
pinch of saffron threads
60ml (1/4 cup) white wine
70g (1/4 cup) passata (tomato sauce)
625ml (2 ½ cups) fish stock
300g (1 ½ cups) Calasparra rice or other short-grain variety
8 (360g) King prawns or Tiger prawns, whole and raw
300g raw prawns, tails on
40g (1/3 cup) frozen peas
4 pimientos, torn (roasted capsicums, desseded and peeled, available in jars or cans)
flat-leaf parsley leaves and lemon wedges to serve

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a 34cm paella pan (I don’t have one, so I used a large deep frying pan) over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes until golden. Add chicken and chorizo and cook for 2 minutes or until browned. Add onion and capsicum, and cook for 5 minutes or until softened. Add paprika and saffron, stirring to coat. Add wine and passata, and cook for 2 minutes or until slightly reduced. Add stock and bring to the boil.
  2. Add rice and prawns to paella, stirring for the last time. The original recipe said to bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes. But I decided to bring it to the boil and then reduce the heat to very low and cook the paella for 30-45 minutes (until the rice had absorbed all the liquid). Scatter with peas and pimientos, increase heat to high and cook for a further 5 minutes or until a crust forms on the base; you will smell the rice starting to “toast”.
  3. Remove pan from heat and cover with a clean, damp tea towel for 10 minutes. Serve scattered with parsley and lemon wedges on the side.
  4. Eat!

I checked the rice after 30 minutes and decided to cook it a bit longer. Keep an eye on it. You know it’s cooked when the rice on the outer edge of the pan is soft and cooked (not crunchy).
I also realised I didn’t do the bit with the tea towel, the paella looked so good, I ate it straight away! Not all of it of course…
Now, I don’t think I’ve ever had one, so my tastebuds were new at this and I had no “memory reference”, but I like it!
It serves 4 hungry people or 6 not so hungry people.

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