I love writing about food, hence this blog, but I often get stumped when people ask me for specific things. One of the most requested recipes I’ve been asked for over the years is my paella recipe. Unlike baking, where I write down every ingredient step by step, when I cook savoury dishes I tend not to follow a recipe and rather go on gut instinct and taste. It’s why I’ve avoided posting this recipe. I prefer doing it in person and showing someone step by step.
Yet here we are. I googled some recipes just to see how other people make paella and I must say I’m slightly disappointed. A lot of recipes I’ve found rush the process and seem to be trying to get to the final product quickly, you can’t rush a good paella. Every element in it matters, from the type of rice you use to the way you cook the seafood. Let me add my disclaimer here first, this is the way I make it. I’ve had rave reviews about it and I’ve found this works best for me. I won’t do my usual long story explaining the history of the dish, let’s let the food speak for itself this time…
NOTE: It’s essential you use quality smoked paprika. It makes a huge difference
500g fresh or thawed half shell mussels
16 medium sized Tiger prawns, de-veined
15 whole clams, shells and all
500g calamari, heads and tentacles
2 Large chicken breasts, cut into bite size cubes
100g chorizo sausage, cut into bite size discs
2 tablespoons tomato puree
1 clove chopped garlic
250g Arborio rice (risotto rice)
250ml dry white wine
2 Large onions, chopped fine
1 large red pepper
1 cup frozen peas
125ml lemon juice
1 pinch saffron
2 teaspoons good quality smoked paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Place the butter in a deep pan on medium heat and allow it to melt. Place the chopped onions in the pan. Stir. Cook them until they become translucent and soft
2. Throw your prawns into the pan and saute them until they turn pink. Remove and set aside. Once the prawns are cool, peel the shell off. Place the shells in a separate bowl.
3. Increase the heat in the same pan (don’t wash or rinse the pan). Now add your mussels to the pan and a little bit of water, cover the pan for about a minute. Pour everything out into a separate bowl and set aside.
4. Add a little more butter to the pan and the chopped garlic, once the butter is sizzling and the pan is super hot, add you calamari (the heads should be sliced into rings beforehand) and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove the calamari and set it aside.
5. Add your chicken, bacon and chorizo to the pan now with the tomato puree and chopped red pepper and cook until the chicken is medium done, remove the meat and set aside.
6. Using the very same pan, place the peeled-off prawn shells in the bottom of the pan and add some of the white wine. Cook this mixture on medium heat until it becomes slightly thick. Remove the shells but keep the liquid behind. You can throw the shells away now.
7. Add your rice to the pan and stir it until it has absorbed all the liquid in the pan. Use a wooden spoon and scrape the bottom of the pan as you stir. Add a little wine and stir until the rice has absorbed it all. Keep doing this until eventually all the wine has been added and absorbed. Add the saffron to the rice.
8. Now do the same with the water, add little by little and stir until it is absorbed. After about 20mins taste a grain of rice, it should be firm but soft and your rice will have taken in the yellow colour from the saffron.
9. Now add the rest of your pre-cooked ingredients and everything else to the pan and continue the process of adding water (and lemon juice) and stirring. About 10minutes. Season and test if the rice is cooked through. Your paella is done once the rice is soft.