Paella comes in many forms, including meat, fish, seafood and vegetable versions. Furthermore, it can often incorporate different versions in the same dish to create hybrid paellas … this is primarily because paella is a comfort food and people will use whatever is to hand whenever they create it. In its birth place Spain, it is traditionally prepared on Sundays and more importantly by husbands who want to give their wives … time away from the kitchen.
In Spanish culture, it holds a similar position to the Australian – Sunday Roast, with family members travel far and wide in an effort to have one communal meal together each week.
All paella’s take the basic form of a one pot meal, where meat, fish and/or vegetables are gently sautéed with rice before a broth is added which completes the cooking process. Unlike the commonly known seafood paella, my recipe is for a mixed paella which is easy to prepare, relatively inexpensive and full of flavour. Try it as an easy mid-week meal or on the weekend, the family will love it.
Makes 6 Serves
700 grams of chicken thigh meat (cut chunky)
2 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
1 onion (sliced)
3 or 4 garlic cloves (minced)
1 red capsicum (sliced thinly)
1 teaspoon smoky paprika
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 large chorizo sausage (sliced)
3 cups unwashed rice (short or medium)
1 glass of dry white wine
4 cups of water or chicken stock
good pinch of saffron threads
2 ripe tomatoes (cubed)
300 grams of green prawns and/or 300 grams squid (cut into pieces)
extra salt and pepper to taste
1 spring onion
3 limes (1 juiced and the others cut into quarters)
1. Commence by preparing the poaching broth. Heat water/stock over a low temperature until it reaches a simmer, then remove from heat and add the saffron threads. Allow the saffron to steep in the warm water until needed in step 6.
2. Heat a large heavy based frypan able to hold all the ingredients or alternatively a dedicated paella dish. Add oil to pan and chicken which has been seasoned with salt and pepper. Cook until the chicken is lightly browned all over (approximately 5 minutes). DO NOT overcook chicken – as it will be cooked further as the dish is prepared.
3. Remove chicken from pan and add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the onion commences to soften, then add the capsicum, paprika and turmeric and stir through, cooking for 2 minutes.
4. Add the chorizo to the pan and allow to gently cook for 3 to 4 minutes so it softens and begins to brown in parts, stir repeatedly to prevent sticking
5. Turn down heat return chicken pieces to the pan. Stir all the ingredients and allow the rice to absorb any oils and liquids which have formed in the pan and cook for 2 minutes before adding the wine which will deglaze the bottom of the pan.
If serving this dish to children, substitute the wine for a cup of water/stock.
6. Next add the saffron infused water/stock and the tomato pieces and bring the pan to a light simmer.
Depending on whether stock was used for the poaching liquid and if it was salty or not, you may need to add extra salt and pepper to the dish at this stage.
7. When at a simmer, stir thoroughly, remove from stove top and place into a pre-heated oven at 200° C for 20 minutes until rice is almost cooked. Do not cover the dish, allow air to circulate into and around the paella.
8. After 20 minutes, temporarily remove pan from oven and add prawns/squid, poking them into the rice, before returning the dish back into the oven for a further 10 minutes of baking.
The rice and prawns should now be cooked and the dish should be ready to serve.
9. Sprinkle the surface of the dish with the sliced spring onion and the lime juice. Place lime quarters in a bowl and allow each person to help themselves to the paella and one or two lime quarters, which they squeeze over their individual paella serve.
It should be noted that paella is often cooked completely on a stove top without the need for an oven. I use the baking method, as I like the crusty edges that form during the baking processes. Creating these crusty edges is considered important in Spanish paella cooking and I never seem able to create them on a cook top, only a crusty bottom.
Please feel free to vary this dish by adding different items, I find pork and scallops work really well as well as chunks of solid fleshed fish – salmon, swordfish, barramundi and dewfish.