I have been to Spain many times when I was a kid. During the summer holidays my parents would often take us camp 3 weeks somewhere in Spain. Oh man! that time was great… I have such great memories of the family holidays in Spain, the only thing we would do was enjoying the sun, the beach and late night dinners. I remember the bowls of fresh tomato salad, delicious peaches, the chorizo, the calamari’s and of course the Sangria and Rosé… I also remember when sometimes we would go out for lunch or dinner that my mom would always order plates of fresh fish and my dad the traditional Paella.
To be honest as kid the dish never really inspired me, the idea of meat and fish together in one plate never made sense to me. I can’t tell if I ever had Paella when we were travelling through Spain, I probably did but honestly I can’t remember. But if I ever hit up Valencia I know paella will be on my must eat list. Paella has bits of everything I love: rice, seafood, and most importantly, crispy burnt parts. Not everyone is into that toasted rice flavour, but I think the socarrat is the best part.
If you want the all important burnt bits, or socarrat, you’re going to need a paella pan. Paella is a dish where the cooking vessel is crucial. The width of a paella pan helps with rice distribution, ensuring that the rice cooks in a thin layer. Paella pans are sized by width and not height. So a pan that feeds two is generally about 24 – 28 cm and a pan that serves eight is about 45 cm. So it simple as that the wider the pan, the more people it feeds.
The rice really is the best part of a paella. I can eat loads and loads of that smoky, saffron flavoured rice and I have. I made a giant pan of paella for Den, his sister, myself, my mother in law and her boyfriend thinking there would definitely be leftovers (I prepared a Paella for what I thought would serve 6-8), but the 5 of us polished it off in one dinner! I love it when this happens 🙂 To me there is nothing more satisfying than when your guest battles around the last few bits of a dish you’ve prepared because it means you did things right.
Paella Valenciana with tiger prawns, clams, mussels, squid, chicken, hot chorizo & topped with fresh parsley:
Cooking time: 1h30
– 6 chicken leg on the bone skin on
– sea salt – freshly ground black pepper
– olive oil
– 200gr iberico chorizo, sliced
– 1 large onion, finely chopped
– 4 large gloves of garlic, finely chopped
– 3 large garlic gloves, thinly chopped
– 1L organic chicken stock hot
– 1L water
– 2 large pinch of saffron
– 1 tbsp smoked paprika
– 800gr bomba rice (short grain paella rice)
– 1 small bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
– 2 handful fresh or frozen green peas
– 12 king prawns
– 500gr fresh mussels
– 500gr fresh clams
– 3 small squid
– 1 really large tomato or 2 medium, grated
– 1 lemon, cut into wedges
– 12 king prawns
– paella pan (min 40 cm width)
Put saffron in little glass of hot water; let sit for 15 minutes.
Season chicken and shrimp with salt and pepper.
Heat a good splash of olive oil in the paella pan over medium-high heat.
Add chicken, shrimp, and chorizo and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the squid in the pan for the last-minute. Transfer shrimp & squid to a plate, leaving meats in pan.
Add smoked paprika, garlic, grated tomatoes, and onions to pan and cook, stirring often, until onions soften, about 6 minutes. Add reserved saffron mixture and broth, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.
Sprinkle in rice, distribute evenly with a spoon, and add peppers. Stir constantly for about 2 or 3 minutes.
Add reserved saffron mixture, broth and water, season with salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, without stirring, until rice has absorbed most of the liquid, 20 minutes. (If your pan is larger than the burner, rotate it every two minutes so different parts are over the heat and the rice cooks evenly.)
Meanwhile pick through the shellfish and get rid of any clams or mussels that aren’t tightly closed. Heat a large sauce pan with lid. Pour all your mussels and clams into the pot. Cook with the lid on for 5 minutes. Shake the pan once or twice during cooking, with the lid still on, to distribute the mussels. After 5 minutes, remove the lid and check the mussels. Nearly all the mussels should be open by now. If not, cover and cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Discard any mussels that haven’t opened after this time.
Back to the paella pan: reduce heat to low, add reserved shrimp, and nestle in clams and mussels hinge side down; and cook for a further 10minutes until all the liquid has been absorbed by the rice and is al dente. Turn heat to high for 1-2 minutes to create the socarrat. Remove pan from heat, cover with aluminium foil, and let sit for 5 minutes before enjoying.
Note: Paella is totally customisable so feel free to make this dish vegetarian, all seafood, or all meats.
What grow together, goes together, right? 🙂 I therefore prefer to pair with wines from Spain, Portugal, or wine from the neighboring Languedoc-Roussillon region in Southern France. Outside of Spain or France, consider Sangiovese or Pinot Noir for red wine. I have myself a preference for a red Rioja, other Tempranillo or Grenache but a chilled dry rosé from Navarra would also be a great match.
The Dutch boyfriend’s opinion:
I am getting quite skeptical about Raphaëlle’s cooking history. She said she never made paella before, but then start working in the kitchen with that dedicated look of someone who knows exactly what she wants and needs. Result: an amazing paella and a travel through time and space back to the holidays with my family some ten years ago. Rice exploding with flavour and spicy chorizo to keep quick-eaters such as me in check. Great, love it, make me some more!