I’ve been going to Spain on holiday since I was a child. My parents have a house there and so I’ve fallen in love with the culture over the years. The slow, languid pace of the locals; the heady scent of delicious, aromatic tapas as you stroll along the seafront;the warm breeze drifting in as the sea laps at your feet and the sand crunches underfoot. Not to mention the fabulous local wines!
Paella was something I discovered aged 11 and I loved it as much then as I do now. It’s glorious golden oozy goodness mixed with seafood, meats and spices – what’s not to love about that?! But I’ve never really managed to recreate a good version at home….. until now!
You will need a little bit of time on your hands for this one and you WILL want to prep your ingredients before you get started.
300g paella rice or arborio is good too
1 good quality chorizo picante
200g calamari (less if you’re not a seafood fan and prepacked is perfect)
1 large red pepper, diced
1 large white onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
14 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
0.5 tbsp paprika
1 pinch of saffron
70g good quality tomato puree
3 veg stock pots in 1.5l of hot water
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, quartered
- It’s best to have all of your ingredients prepared before you start cooking
- Who’s got time to make stock from scratch these days, but if you can – awesome! I use the Knorr stock pots and they’re just great. Fish stock would be more authentic, but I prefer the flavour of a veg stock.
- Keep your stock hot but not boiling as you cook and a ladle in it
- Coat the bottom of your paella/pan with olive oil.
- Brown your chorizo over high heat for 1-2 minutes. Do not fully cook, just get the outside well browned. Set aside. This should add a nice red color and a hell of a flavor to your oil.
- Brown garlic, onion and pepper until they’re softened, adding the tomatoes shortly before the mixture is finished.
- Push the vegetables to one side of the pan and on the other add the tomato paste. Caramelize it, flipping it and spreading it until it begins to loosen (1-2 min over high heat).
- Mix all of the vegetables and chorizo together with the caramelized tomato paste also adding the paprika, parsley and thyme.
- Add rice, mixing together and stirring as the rice browns (1-1 1/2) minutes. As the rice browns mix in the saffron. Make sure to break it between your fingers and stir it in to release all those tasty oils.
- When the rice is slightly translucent add enough stock to cover the whole mixture. If it’s been kept warm, it will begin to boil almost immediately. Lower to a medium heat but keep it at a steady boil.
- Add in your calamari at this point.
- This is where paella is made and broken. I stir a few times in the first 5-10 minutes, always going outside to in, adding stock as necessary to keep the rice fully covered. DON’T be too vigorous with it.
- After this you must let the paella SIT! Let it cook another 20-30 minutes, adding stock bit by bit to keep the rice submerged until the rice on the top is al dente. Don’t worry about rice burning to the bottom, this part (which actually has a name which escapes me at the moment, it’s something like socarrat) is a tasty delicacy.
- When the rice on top is still quite al dente, take paella off of heat and cover. You must let it sit for 15-20 minutes. I’ve taken the lid off prematurely and ended up with a crunchy mess. Patience is the key.
- Once you’re sure it’s ready uncover, garnish with lemon wedges and enjoy!
The taste of this took me back to warm, summer evenings sitting on the terrace sipping a nice rose and listening to the chime of the cicadas and the sound of karaoke in the distance over the crash of the ocean. Bliss….