If you were to ask 100 people for a recipe for paella in Spain, the chances are that you wouldn’t be given the same recipe twice. Paella is somewhat of a moveable feast, with different ingredients, but the method of cooking remains basically the same. The most important ingredients to get an authentic paella are rice and stock. To get the correct texture and flavour, a short grained paella rice must be used. The Bomba rice from Valencia or Calasparra rice are considered to be the best. The rice remains slightly firm to the bite and the grains remain separate with a nutty flavour, unlike the Italian risotto rice which produces a soupy texture. A well- made stock is essential to ensure that the paella has real depth of flavour . You can of course use your own recipe for stock but if you have never made stock, there is a recipe for a good chicken stock in this section.
This is my own recipe that I have made for many years and it always goes down well. Feel free to experiment by adding different shellfish such as mussels, clams or squid. Most of all, Enjoy!!
This recipe serves four as a main course or 8 as a starter or tapas. simply halve the ingredients to serve two for main or 4 tapas, and use a smaller pan.
1.5 litres well flavoured chicken stock
8 large raw tiger prawns with shells and heads on
8 chicken thighs, skinned and boned
125g Chorizo hoop , chopped into 1cm dice
1 large onion or 2 medium), peeled and chopped into fairly chunky pieces
1 red and 1 green (or yellow) pepper peeled and chopped into fairly chunky pieces
3 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 sachet paella seasoning mix
2 Bay leaves
250g good quality Spanish paella rice, I use Bomba
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbs good Spanish olive oil plus extra for drizzling
Heat the olive oil in a paella pan,
Add the chicken thighs and brown both sides, remove these to a plate and set aside.
Add the onion to the pan and fry gently until softened but not coloured.
Increase the heat slightly and add the peppers and fry until beginning to brown a little.
Add the chorizo cubes and continue to fry until these are browning a little too.
Add the garlic and fry for a further couple of minutes.
Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the paprika and paella seasoning and give it all a good stir.
Add the rice and stir everything round for about 2 minutes until the rice is coated in the beautifully fragrant oil.
Add enough stock to the pan to fill nearly to the top, and simmer vigorously for 10 minutes without stirring.
Add the chicken back to the pan and place the prawns on top, turning the heat to medium.
Continue to cook for 8-10 minutes turning the prawns half way. They should be turning nice and pink.
If the rice looks a bit dry, add a little more stock, but be careful not to overdo it. What we are looking for is rice that has absorbed all the liquid without being soupy. Just keep your eye on it and give the pan an occasional shake – DO NOT stir!
When time is up, remove the pan from the heat, cover with foil and leave to rest for 5 minutes. This helps to finish cooking the top layer of rice which may still be slightly underdone.
After the resting time, uncover and check that the prawns are pink all over.
Place wedges of lemon around the pan and sprinkle with some good Spanish olive oil and some chopped fresh parsley if liked.
Serve immediately – paella shouldn’t be kept waiting