Paella is the tastiest, simplest meal you can create for friends and family. Most of the ingredients for this dish were sourced from the Pannier Market or from our local high street butcher. The rest are just staple source cupboard essentials.
There are a few simple rules that I think everyone should follow to get the best results.
- Use a proper paella pan, not a frying pan as the base of the pan and the height of the sides are in proportion
- The heat source has to more or less cover the width of the pan. At home I just use two gas rings on my cooker or indeed use the barbeque and have lunch in the garden. Try to make sure the pan is as level as possible
- Use paella rice, long grain rice isn’t starchy enough and risotto rice has too much starch so you’ll end up with gloop.
- Use vegetable stock rather than chicken or fish stock i.e. don’t try to match the stock to your ingredients
- Add your stock in one go, to within a thumb’s width of the top of the paella pan.
- Once you add the stock don’t stir the rice or fiddle around with it.
- If you don’t like an ingredient, don’t put it in. Mussels are not to everyone’s taste!
Right then, rules over – let the fun begin.
This is my recipe for 4 people, feel free to add to or subtract from it as you feel fit, just keep to the basic rules and you’ll be fine.
Chicken and Seafood Paella (Serves 4)
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
- 1 small onion cut into small dice
- 2 peppers cut into small dice – red and yellow look good
- 1 sachet of paella spices
- 1 smoked chorizo cut into small dice
- 250g of paella rice
- 8 skinned and boned chicken thighs cut into thumb size pieces
- 2 litres of hot vegetable stock
- 2 dozen shell on uncooked prawns
- 0.5 Kilos of uncooked mussels
- 100g frozen peas
- Handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
- Salt and pepper
NB: Most of these ingredients are available from traders in the Pannier Market – Jonas the fishmonger comes on Tuesdays and Fridays
- Add the olive oil to the pan and gently soften the onion, peppers and garlic
- Add the chorizo and paella spices and gently cook for a further 5 minutes
- Add the chicken thighs and cook for a further 10 minutes or until the thighs are slightly coloured
- Add the rice and mix all of the cooked ingredients together to ensure that all the bits are evenly dispersed
- Add the hot vegetable stock to about a thumb’s width below the lip of the pan
- Bring the stock to an even simmer across the pan.
- When the stock level has reduced by about half carefully lay in the prawns, mussels and frozen peas and season well with salt and pepper.
- Continue to gently simmer until the stock has all been absorbed. If you find the rice is still a little hard, just add a bit more stock and keep going.
- When it’s all done remove from the heat and cover for five minutes before serving. Uncover and sprinkle with the chopped parsley for that final ‘Taa Dah’ moment.