Paella is a traditional Spanish rice dish from Valencia. The original Valencian version involves rabbits, snails and beans but seafood varieties are also now popular. Then there is paella mixta, like mine, which is more or less the everything and the kitchen sink version. I overdosed on paella when I visited friends in Seville on Erasmus in university, as it was cheap and easily available, usually involving mystery meat whose origin (both part of animal and animal itself) was not discernible.
I had it again recently in London and remembered how much I loved it, and have been experimenting since. Since I tend to be cooking only for myself, buying ingredients for a specific dish mean then having to have that dish repeatedly until they are all used up. So I’d recommend Paella as a group meal (although it also reheats well as a packed lunch). It is not a difficult dish to make, it is just slightly time consuming and labour intensive (about 45 minutes of consistent work) but it is definitely worth it.
- 2 red or yellow peppers
- 1 large onion
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 100g chorizo (or just the whole sausage if you prefer)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons of sherry or white wine
- 1 pinch saffron
- 1 dried nora pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 100g peas
- 100g broad beans
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 250g paella rice
- 750ml chicken stock
- 1 lemon
- 1 handful chopped parsley (optional)
- Olive oil
- Chop the peppers into 1cm dice.
- Finely chop the onions and garlic.
- Chop the chorizo into 1-2cm pieces.
- Heat a small amount of olive oil (more fat comes from the chorizo once it starts to cook) in a large frying or paella pan.
- Cook the chorizo for 2 minutes until starting to turn golden and a little crispy on the outside.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and keep covered.
- Cook the peppers and onion in the chorizo oil for approximately 10-15 minutes over a medium-low heat until soft and in the case of the onion, golden.
- Meanwhile, put the saffron and nora pepper in a small bowl and cover with hot water, crushing the saffron a little to diffuse in the water.
- Add the chopped garlic for 2 minutes, stirring well to combine with other ingredients.
- Add the tomato paste, paprika and sherry/wine and cook down for 3-4 minutes to form a small amount of sauce.
- Add the paella rice and toss well in the sauce.
- Cook, stirring frequently for 1-2 minutes to combine.
- Add the saffron and its liquid and leave to absorb for 2 minutes.
- Add the stock, bay leaf, frozen peas and broad beans and simmer for 10-12 minutes until the liquid is almost completely absorbed (paella should be quite dry, not as soupy as risotto).
- Do not stir, shake the pan occasionally (you will get a layer of crispy slightly caramelised rice at the bottom, this is the way it is meant to be, and the best part of the paella according to many Spanish cooks).
- Toss in the chorizo for the last two minutes of cooking.
- Serve garnished with parsley (optional) and wedges of lemon.
Photos courtesy of the lovely Holly Quinn-Kumar