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How to cook a great paella for 10-12 using the Garcima burner with 46cm paella pan

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We had a paella party at our place (Safrondust HQ) over the weekend, and I must say it was the best paella I have ever cooked.  Chicken, chorizo, bacon, and prawn, with lots of vegetables, a great stock, and our always popular bomba rice of Calasparra.

Using46cm Garcima paella pan over a 400mm Garcima burner, I turned up the heat and added a generous layer of Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Somebody told me that it is impossible to use too much of a good olive oil in a paella, and I might have taken them a bit too literally !

Paella ingredients

I added 800 grams of chicken thigh (boneless) cut into chunks, and started grilling these in the olive oil. Once the chicken had browned I added 3 diced chorizo's and 500 grams of diced bacon. The protein needed a good deal of heat and a fair bit of cooking to brown it off and get it a bit crispy.

Browning off the meat

If you dont crisp the meat up at this stage, you will lose the opportunity as soon as you add the other ingredients, so it is worth spending a bit of time up front getting it well cooked and a little bit crispy.

Once the meat is ready (the chicken does not have to be cooked through, it will cook through once we add the rice and stock), I put in 3 large spanish onions well chopped, plus 3 large red capsicums well chopped, 4 or 5 cloves of fresh garlic chopped up, and started stirring these in to soften them up.

Once these had softened up, I added 2 x 400g cans of chopped tomato, and a healthy sprinkling of dried oregano, and stirred these in bringing the heat down a little to cook the sofrito. Once the liquid is in, a good tablespoon of paprika for good measure (paprika burns easily, so don't put it in until after the liquid).

By this stage we are getting some delicious aromas coming off the paella, and hungry people starting to crowd around and take an active interest in the task at hand !

Chopped tomato to add to the sofrito

Once the tomato has been stirred in and started to cook and form the sofrito, I added about 800 grams of Calasparra bomba rice to the mix. I have found that if you are using a healthy quantity of ingredients 800 grams of rice is plenty for this size pan. I made a paella before with a kilo of rice in this size pan and found it a bit too much.

I would probably go a kilo into the 55cm pan, and 800g into the 46cm pan - and since there is plenty of liquid from the vegetables and oil, and since we are using a bomba rice I measure out double the rice quantity as stock (eg. About 1.6 litres for 800g rice).

Bomba rice of calasparra going into the paella

So we fry the rice for a while with a good stir to coat in in oils and sofrito, this gives the rice a bit better texture when it cooks. I didn’t actually make that up I read it in a recipe book, but I do agree with putting the rice in now with the sofrito and before the stock - although some would disagree with me and suggest putting the stock in first before the rice.

Bit of a stir to get the rice through the paella

Next I put in 500 grams of beans which I had chopped more or less in half and cut off the end bits.

The stock had been simmering on the stove on low heat for a while, and I used 1.5 litres of stock for 800g of rice. I added the warm stock to the mixture, and straightaway you can see the yellow of the saffron radiating colour through the dish.

Adding saffron infused warm broth to the paella

The stock was an expensive chicken stock from the deli, and I think this made a big difference it was worth buying the quality. Of course you can make your own too, and this would be a great idea.

Letting the paella simmer in the stock

I had a gram of saffron threads thrown into the stock when I first put it on the stove, and stirred this through whilst the stock was heating. The heat releases the colour from the saffron threads, and because you have not ground the saffron, you end up with the beautiful red strands flecked through the paella.

Lovely king prawns going into the paella

After the stock has gone in, its time for the prawns.  I had 8 large king prawns just cleaned of the long antennae, but other than that just press them into the liquid heads and all.  The prawns will cook through with the rice nothing more to worry about.  

So now I turned up the heat on the burner, and brought the mixture to the boil. Its OK to stir at this stage before the stock has boiled, but as soon as the stock hits the boil its time to stop stirring !

Prawns are now added to the paella

I added some peas at this stage too just to finish off the fresh ingredients and add a splash of colour.

Also I turn the heat down now to keep the boiling water at a simmer. And now is the time for the really important part with the rice cooking. 

Check your watch, because for a perfect paella you should cook the rice for 22 minutes precisely. This is really important, many times I have overcooked a paella and it comes out a bit stodgy, but if you get this part right your paella will be the stuff of legends.

Turned down the heat on my Garcima paella burner

Around 15 minutes you can turn up the heat on the paella, and what we are trying to do is toast the outside of the rice to make the crispy outer skin called the soccarat. The rice will actually tell you when it is cooked, and at about the 20 minute mark you can put your ear close to the base of the pan and listen for the quiet but distinctive popping sound of the rice as it toasts.

Added some peas to my paella

At 22 minutes turn the heat off, and cover the paella. I used foil to cover, but one of my Spanish friends told me afterward that in Spain they actually cover with newspaper or a cloth to allow the paella to breath and not become soggy on the top. I will keep that in mind for next time !

Cover the paella with foil and turn the heat off

And now finally the paella is placed on the table, and when everyone is seated the foil is removed, garnish wiht a bit of lemon and parsley, and the perfect paella is revealed !

Delicious paella is served !

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