Paella

Paella is a sublime mixture of saffron rice, loaded with delicious bits and pieces including seafood, chorizo sausage, chicken, vegetables, cooked in stock with other spices. It is different from a risotto in that you use medium or long grain rice [I prefer medium grain] and the object is for each grain of rice to be separate, not creamy and amalgamated as in a risotto.

You can use pretty much anything within these guidelines, adding luxury ingredients, eg lobster! squid! mussels! rabbit!, or subtracting to the more minimalist chicken, sausage, green beans.  The key, defining, absolutely important ingredient is saffron.  Yes, saffron threads are expensive but the experience is definitely worth it.  Without the saffron it is not a paella.  You must also use real chicken stock – cubes just don’t work here, as the rice and other ingredients absorb the flavours of stock and spices.  Ooh, lots of garlic too.

The best pan to use is as close to a proper paelleria as you can get – large, shallow with rounded inside edges.  I use my gorgeous Le Creuset Buffet Casserole/Braiser and it does a superb job [it’s also incredibly versatile; I adore Le Creuset cookware, worth every cent].

Serve on large dinner plates, with a mixed Spanish salad to the side if desired [lettuce; finely sliced red onion; chunks of tomato; olives; olive oil dressing].  A good red wine eg, Pinot Noir or Cabernet Sauvignon goes well with this – a Shiraz is too “big” and whites are too light, although a hearty SSB would not go entirely amiss.

Serves 6.

. . . . . . . . . .

Ingredients:

2 chicken breast or 4 thigh fillets, cubed

3 chorizo sausages OR other kind of pork products, eg belly pork or bacon

200 g king prawns, peeled & de-veined AND / OR

200 g squidlets, cleaned

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced

1 or 2 red chillies, very finely sliced lengthwise

1 red capsicum, finely sliced lengthwise into strips

1 x 400 g tin whole peeled tomatoes OR 2 tbs tomato paste

2 handfuls green beans [frozen is fine – preferably whole ones]

2 cups medium grain rice

1/3 g saffron threads

2 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 tbs ea finely chopped parsley and thyme

fresh ground black pepper; fresh ground sea salt

 . . . . . . . . . .

Method:

Heat olive oil in pan; sauté diced chicken until nicely browned but not over-cooked.  Remove to a side plate. 

Add chorizo sausage [or other pork products, if using] to the pan and fry until fat is running and the sausage is well browned.  Remove, add to the plate with the chicken and allow to cool then cut into small dice / slices eg, 1.5 cm.

Add a little extra olive oil, to the pan [wipe out if the chorizo has discoloured it too much; but the crunchy bits etc do add loads of flavour] and add the garlic, chillies, and capsicum.  Cook, stirring constantly until soft, over a medium heat; don’t brown the garlic, as burnt garlic tastes bitter.

Add the rice and fry for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly until well combined with the olive oil, garlic, chillies, and capsicum mixture.  Add the tin of tomatoes or tomato paste, the chicken stock [hard to say how much, I put in a wineglass or teacup at a time] and the saffron and hot water.  Add herbs and pepper and salt.

Cover and allow to simmer.  Check and stir occasionally to distribute cooking heat evenly and scrape rice etc down from the side.  Add more stock as required until rice is cooked but not falling apart – it should stick together but each grain keep its shape.  Don’t allow rice to get either too dry, or too wet.

Add chicken, sausage and seafood and beans and stir through so the new ingredients are well covered by rice.  Cook about 10 minutes until the seafood is lightly cooked through [prawns and squidlets get tough with over-cooking so keep an eye on them].  Check for seasoning.

Some amount of sticking to the bottom is unavoidable – Spaniards believe the crunchy bits off the bottom are the best and I agree with them; you may not want to pass this information on to others …

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  • By Recipe Index « OTTERKAT on Tuesday 11 October 2011 at 11:24 am

    […] Paella   [Spanish Seafood & Chicken Saffron Rice] […]

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