Rice is a fantastically versatile ingredient. It is the main staple food for a large part of the human population. It is the no. 1 crop worldwide.
We use rice in lots of dishes at home and probably eat it 3-4 times a week.
Main favourites are chilli and rice, risotto, rice salads and loaded rice ( basically anything reaching the end of its life veg wise, bacon and some crumbled feta).
A great filling dinner it is new my main staple for parties.
Paella is fun, filling and looks amazing in a big dish in the middle of the table for all to enjoy.
I like to do chicken, prawn and chorizo, although rabbit is traditionally used.
You can omit or add meats as you want although stick to white meats and fish.
My recipe is a bit of a mix of my favourites and a Sardinian classic.
Onto the rice, for me there are 3 rices to use for a paella, which in essence is a dryer paella…..
Paella rice- Bahia, Balilla, Bomba, Calasparra and Senia,
Carnaroli rice and
Arborio rice- mainly used in risotto.
There are small but defining differences in all of these, paella rice(as the name suggests) is best used in paella as it has a higher starch content therefore takes longer to become ‘creamy’ and cling together. for a paella you are looking for rice with a bite( al denti) therefore paella rice is the perfect choice.
Carnaroli Rice is a high quality arborio version that can give the creaminess desired for a risotto , but is a bit more delicate and refined than arborio. If you could not find paella rice, this would be my next choice, but just keep tasting to check its not going too creamy.
Arborio is fanatic for risotto as it releases its starch quickly- this is what helps make a creamy risotto, if stuck you could use for paella, but be gently on adding the liquid too soon other wise you will be left with a large pan of half creamy/claggy paella.
With this in mind, Firstly I purchased Carnararoli as it is stocked at work, then by some beautiful turn of fate we had a tasting at work and I was presented with a new line, Paella rice-oh the joy!!! Authentic Bomba from Sivaris – Amazing, thank you Graham at Cheese Cellar!
Party Paella- serves 4-6 depending on greediness!
x Paella rice ( around 80-100 g uncooked per person)
x 3 chicken breast/thighs- de-boned
x 1-200 g of cooking chorizo- Spanish if possible
x 4-6 big fat king prawns – uncooked- they will be blue/grey- I prefer heads off, tails on- but entirely up to you
x 4 bits of bacon or pancetta, chopped into strips
x 1 stock cube and 2 litres of water or use 2 litres of chicken stock preferable
x saffron, big pinch
x 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
x 3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
x 1 onion, finely chopped
x 1 cup olive oil
x herbs, I like parsley, dill, and coriander
x lemons, go for quite a few like to have 5 available.
x salt and pepper
x splash of white wine/vermouth
Start by cooking off the chicken in the paella pan- the pan is not essential, but is a great centre piece an can be very inexpensive, mine was £5.99 from home sense- perfect.
Brown the chicken and nearly cook through. remove to add later.
Next add the bacon and onions, fry off for around 5 minutes, add garlic and cook off- do not burn.
Next add the chopped chorizo, cook until the chorizo has released most of it’s gorgeous deep orange/red oil.
Next add the cup of oil to the pan, heat, add in all the rice.
This slightly cooks the rice, but more importantly imparts all the flavours of the chorizo into the rice.
In a large litre jug add a litre of boiling water to the stock cube, add the smoked paprika and saffron to the water and stir up until stock cube has dissolved.
Add a splash of the liquid to the rice, keep adding the stock to the rice and keep the rice moving for about 20 minutes. you will get through the first litre pretty well, add the second as you need- there maybe a little left over.
Taste as you go and keep the rice moving from the hotter middle to the outside. Always taste from the outside. Once the rice has a bit but is also cooked through its is time to add the chicken back to the dish, also do some seasoning – I find quite a bit of salt is needed, also add the juice form 2 lemons and the splash of vermouth- these ass the touch of acidity needed to cut through the oil and creaminess of the dish.
Add the prawns at the last minute before it goes into the oven, check consistency – a little water maybe needed before going in the oven for 10 minutes to cook the prawns through and to dry out the dish just a little. I like to leave mine a tough longer so the rice on the sides start to caramelize, amazing!
During this time chop all the herbs and lemons into segments.
Remove from the oven and mix through half the herbs and squeeze another lemon over, taste, season if required, then arrange the prawns a little, sprinkle the remaining herbs on top and add the lemon wedges in an attractive way.
Boom! Ready to serve- You will the love the gasps and wows as you two handedly bring the Paella to the table.
It will taste better each time you make it as you get used to achieving the perfect consistency and combinations of meats and herbs that you love.
Have fun with it, get a glass of crisp pinot grigio out, enjoy your party and your Paella!
xxx Bake Love xxx