Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika. Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella!
Paella!!!!!!!!!! When I saw this month’s challenge I couldn’t have been happier. When I lived in Europe, Spain was my favourite place to travel to. I have been there quite a few times and visited different areas. So, I have eaten my fair share of paellas. I have also tried to make it at home a few times, but this is the first time that I have actually taken the time to try and make it as close to the original as possible. That included buying a paella (or paellera as someone says), which is the wide pan traditionally used to make paella in. As I said, I tried to make it “as close to the original as possible”, but I am not saying this IS the original paella. Like with many famous dishes, everyone seems to have THE recipe, but I found that there are actually millions of different recipes out there and they all claim to be the “traditional” recipe. Anyhow, the majority of people agree that the “real” paella is the one made in Valencia (paella valenciana), the area from which this dish originated. Paella valenciana is usually made with chicken, rabbit, vegetables and often snails too. Then there is the seafood paella which is made with calamari, prawns, mussels, clams and other seafood instead of meat. And then there is my favourite: the mixed paella, which is the one I made for this challenge. So what I am sharing with you today is MY personal take on a mixed paella and I am not claiming it to be the original thing. I did however try to follow the traditional method as much as possible and I have used “bomba” rice, which is supposed to be the best rice to make paella with. It is a very small and round kind of rice grown in the area of Valencia. Also, I have used chicken tenders instead of mixed chicken pieces (which would be better) simply because I had them handy and because I figured they may be a bit easier for my little ones to eat (especially for my 2 year old). Before I leave you all to the recipe, I want to dedicate it to my grandfather. He is 86 and he has been having a few “age related” problems lately… he loves paella and we once made it together. So this one is for you, nonno! <3
Thank you so much Inma for such a fun challenge!
Recipe adapted from LaPaella.net
Ingredients: (for 4 to 6 persons and a pan of 40 cm – 15 ¾ inches)
500 gms – 1.1 lbs. rice (arroz bomba)
200 ml – 6 ¾ oz. extra virgin olive oil
450 gms – 1 lb. chicken (I used tenders, but mixed pieces, with the bones and skin on are the traditional choice)
150 gms – 5.3 oz. pork loin, cut in big pieces
1 tbsp pimentón rojo dulce or sweet paprika
2 pinches saffron stems
8 tbsp diced tomatoes
200 gms – 6 ¾ oz. green beans, cut in 2.5 com – 1 inch pieces
¾ cup peas
1 red capsicum, thickly sliced
15 big mussels
6 king prawns
1.5 lt – 6 cups liquid (the proportion is at least 1 part of rice to 3 parts of liquid, but I ended up using a bit more – 1+ cup extra) – I used the liquid from cooking the mussels and then for the remaining liquid I used ½ chicken broth and ½ water.
Start by cooking the mussels. Put them in a pot with some water, cover the pot and put it on the fire. As soon as the mussels open, remove them from the hot water and keep them aside. DO NOT throw the liquid out as you will need it to cook the paella. Filter it and keep it aside.
Put the extra virgin olive oil in the pan and heat it on a medium flame. Remember to put some salt around the edges of the pan, especially if they are not covered in oil. This will prevent the pan from burning.
Add the king prawns and sauté them for a couple of minutes, then remove them from the pan and keep them aside.
Add the chicken and pork and brown them well. Add the sliced capsicum and fry it for 2-3 minutes. Remove the meat and the capsicum and keep them aside.
Quickly add the peas and green beans to the pan and sauté them for a couple of minutes. Now add the tomatoes in the middle of the pan and fry them for 2 minutes. Add the pimentón rojo dulce and mix well. After 1 minute, put the meat pieces back in and stir well.
Add the 1.5 lt – 6 cups of liquid, saffron and some salt. Mix and let it simmer for about 18 minutes.
At this point, taste the broth. It should be quite salty as when the rice is added it will absorb the salt while cooking and if you do not put enough salt in your broth, the final paella will not be as tasty as it should be. Also, at this point I would add 1 cup of broth to the pan above the 1.5 lt – 6 cups of liquid. I did not do this here, but ended up having to add more broth to the paella later as I did not have enough for the rice to cook properly. Unfortunately the amount of liquid you need depends on many factors: the quality of rice, the fire you are using, how much evaporates etc. These are all factors to keep in mind. I think, the more you make paella, the better you get at calculating this. Anyhow, keep in mind that you may need to add a little more broth while cooking the rice.
Now you can add the rice to the broth. Make sure you evenly distribute it around the pan and that there are no grains on the top of the meat etc. that are not submerged in the broth or they will not cook.
Cook the paella on a high flame for 6 minutes. Arrange the mussels, king prawns and capsicum slices on the top and lower the flame to the minimum. Keep cooking for about 13 minutes or until the rice is cooked. As I said, I had to add a bit more broth during this step. If by any chance the broth has not been completely absorbed by the rice when the rice is ready, increase the flame so it quickly evaporates. Paella is a “dry rice” dish, unlike risotto.
When cooked, let it rest for 5 minutes and then serve. I love to serve the paella in its pan and put it in the middle of the table.
Enjoy with a glass of good red wine.Pin It