My Paella Recipe – this is a really easy, simple dish, ideal if you are doing things at the last minute and need to use what you have in the cupboard or freezer.
Contrary to popular belief the original Paella never contained either seafood or chicken – that’s just how we like it these days. Paella was a popular peasant dish made in Spain by people living off the land – the main ingredients were in fact Snail and Rabbit and anything they could throw in there!
My Paella does of course contain seafood (snails and rabbit are not that easy to come by) and also, whilst most Spanish dishes start with fried onions, there are NO ONIONs in this Paella, according to the Spanish side of my family, the onion disintegrates and makes the rice soggy and clumpy.
Rule No 1 ..
Don’t use onions in Paella
So here goes …
1 Gently fry about a cup full of Risotto or paella rice in some olive oil and butter (about 50/50) – also add a bit of diced garlic, some crushed chillies or a diced fresh chilli, two chicken Oxo cubes sprinkled on, a large pinch of Turmeric (or Saffron if you have it) and half a chopped Chorizo sausage – (you can buy these in Sainsbury’s or Tesco).
Fry gently for about 4 minutes – don’t over do it! You are not trying to cook the rice or even brown it, you simply want it to absorb the oil and flavours.
2. Add a glass of white wine and a teaspoon of lemon juice – this will quickly be absorbed as the pan is hot, so pretty quickly afterwards add a cup of water – stir. Also add 4 or 6 chicken thighs (or legs) and then a cup of water. Keep topping up the water – a cup at a time as soon as the rice has absorbed it all – keep doing this for about 10/15 mins. By the way if you don’t have chicken to hand then just use seafood (I often do, if I can’t be bothered to go and get some – still tastes really good - but don't add it until the very end)
If you have stock made from boiled chicken bones for example, then of course use that instead of water.
Rule No 2 ..
Never use chicken breast – it overcooks far too easily and goes all stringy and/or dry – always use thighs or legs!
3. When the rice is ‘Al Dente’ (almost cooked but still hard in the very middle) – add a bag of thawed seafood cocktail/mix (muscles, prawns, squid etc.) – by the way if you don’t like squid or muscles, then just use prawns- mix it around and for an extra touch add a bag of uncooked jumbo prawns – they must be sliced down the back ('butterflied')and when they hit the heat they will immediately spread out – they taste 10 times nicer and remain tender – whole unsliced prawns tend to go rubbery if they are the slightest bit overcooked - I never cook prawns without first slicing them.
You can also at this stage add half a red or green pepper sliced and perhaps some fresh chopped tomatoes (adds a bit of colour and variety) – I also sometimes add some pitted and halved olives but some people don’t like them.
You could also add peas if you want - I prefer not.
Rule No 3 ..
When cooking prawns or large shrimps – always slice them down the back with a sharp knife – don’t cut them in half just cut half way through them – I never cook prawns without doing this – uncooked prawns are the best but it even works if you do it with cooked prawns.
Its very important that the seafood goes in right at the last moment and cooks for about three minutes – it’s easy to overdo seafood and make it rubbery – the chicken (provided it went in at the start) should be cooked perfectly, but always check and if necessary just quickly fry the chicken for a couple of minutes separately to make sure it isn’t pink in the middle (simply remove the thighs and then stick them back in again.
Try not to overcook the rice, it should have some liquid in it but you down want it too soft and soggy.
When you are ready to serve, stir to evenly distribute the ingredient and serve in the pan with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and/or coriander. If you want to look like one of those TV chefs, throw 3 orf 4 fully ‘shelled’ crayfish or prawns on the top for looks (see picture below) - although I don't ussualy bother.
Don't want to cook? ... then eat out, at one of our recommended local resturants..
Wine? well we don't have a wine merchant on the best of guildford so I can't recommend anywhere to go but I guess sainsburys is as good as anywhere - I enjoy wine and probably drink more of it than I should ... I do believe that you should drink whatever wine you feel like - I don't go in for all that business of matching wine to your dish - although the purist would suggest a crisp sauvignon or perhaps a pungent chardonnay to go with this particular dish - I personally like a nice glass of Red Rioja!
Berberanna is currently on offer at Sainsbury's 2 for £10!
Member since: 28th May 2012
56, married, 3 children - passionate about all things local! Owner of the bestofguildford site, keen supporter of Guildford Rugby Club... serial networker