Paella with chicken, chorizo and seafood
Paella is one of those dishes that has hundreds of different recipes, most of which are fiercely defended as being the “authentic” one. It originated as a peasant dish for workers in the rice fields, and they would put into it whatever they had to hand, which means that, as is usually the case with traditional dishes, there is not one definitive recipe. Paella is now widely known as a dish that the men in Spain cook, usually outdoors on a barbecue. The recipe below is one that I love to cook, and love to eat, but I make no claim of authenticity. It’s just yum.
Prep time: 30 minutes Cooking time: 1 hour
1 (100g) chorizo, sliced 5mm thick
1 (140g) chicken thigh, cut into strips
8 (250g) green king prawns, shell from the body removed, head and tail intact.
1.5 litres chicken stock
¼ teaspoon saffron
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 ripe red tomatoes or ½ tin (200g) crushed tomatoes, if tomatoes are not in season
1 medium brown onion, peeled and cut into quarters
1 red capsicum, seeded and cut into large pieces
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 cups of Carnaroli or Arborio rice
8-12 vongole clams
8-12 pot-ready live mussels
A little extra olive oil
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 lemons, cut into wedges
Heat a paella pan or a large, shallow chef’s pan or frypan over medium-high heat. Cook the chorizo slices for a minute each side or until golden brown. Remove to a bowl, leaving any oil they released in the pan.
Saute the chicken for 2-3 minutes or until golden. It will cook further in the stock later on, it’s just important to brown at this stage not necessarily cook all the way through. Remove to the bowl with the chorizo.
If there is some oil left in the pan from the chorizo and chicken, leave it there to sauté the prawns. If not, add a little of the olive oil. Saute the prawns briefly until slightly golden and just cooked through. Remove from the pan.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the chicken stock to the boil with the saffron added. Once boiling, reduce the heat to a very low simmer.
Place the tomatoes, onion, capsicum and garlic in a food processor and puree until smooth. This is called the Soffrito which is the flavour base for the paella. Add the olive oil to the pan and then the soffrito. Stir until most of the moisture has evaporated. This will take about five minutes. The mixture will start to crackle and become more paste-like when it is ready. Add the paprika and stir for a further minute. Add the rice and stir to coat with the soffrito.
Pour in about a third of the stock and stir to mix everything together. Add the chicken and chorizo and distribute evenly in the pan. Pour in the rest of the stock and reduce the heat to very low. Nestle the vongole and mussels, hinge-side down, into the rice. Cook for around 40 minutes on low heat. Don’t stir it, and move the pan around on the element to make sure there is even heat distribution. (This is where doing it on a barbecue can be really handy.) As time goes by, the rice absorbs the liquid, the shellfish open and a crust should form on the bottom and around the sides of the pan. The dish is ready when the rice is cooked through.
Arrange the prawns around the pan and cover with foil. Remove from the heat and rest for a few minutes, covered.
Serve to the table in the pan, drizzled with a little olive oil, and scattered with parsley and lemon wedges. It’s lovely with some crusty baguette too.