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What is the best paella recipe

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Saffrondust's favourite paella recipe

A good friend of ours is getting married this weekend, his family has travelled to Australia from overseas, and are staying together in a beautiful big house in Sydney.  

A big paella party is being planned, and we were asked to share a paella recipe to cook for everyone. With family from Eastern Europe, seafood is not a familiar option, so a chicken and chorizo paella it is.  We have described in this article our favourite paella recipe, but don't be afraid to mix and match this basic technique to discover what works for you.

We are cooking in a Garcima 55cm pan which is recommended for 16 serves, and cooking over a Garcima 450mm dual ring gas burner. 

Rule of thumb is 80-100g of rice per serve, so for this size pan use around 1.5 kilos of rice, plus fresh ingredients.

Recommended ingredients based on 1 kilo rice (adjust quantities depending on how much rice you use) :

  • 1 kilogram paella rice
  • 1 kilogram chicken drumsticks, either chunky pieces on the bone, or filleted
  • 2 good size chorizo’s, sliced diagonally or cubed
  • Olive oil
  • White wine, or white wine vinegar, for deglazing the pan
  • 2-3 tablespoons good Spanish paprika (a blend of smoked and sweet, and add hot paprika to taste)
  • 2 x 375g cans of crushed tomatoes
  • ½ a gram of saffron
  • 1 litre of a quality liquid stock – chicken or vegetable
  • 1 litre of water measured in a container, and extra water not measured
  • 4 large spanish onions, finely chopped
  • 3 capsicums (red and green), cut into slices
  • 500g lima beans (other green bean variety OK if you cant find lima beans) trimmed
  • 1 clove of garlic (or a tablespoon of crushed garlic)
  • 2 lemons to serve, cut into wedges
  • Bunch of parsley to garnish, roughly chopped

They say paella is a technique rather than a recipe, I am going to describe our technique here, but it is by no means the only way to cook paella. This technique creates a stock in the pan, and takes a longer time to cook as it relies on using more water and simmering to create a stock, before cooking the rice.

If you are wanting to cook your paella faster, you can add the rice before adding the water, cook it with the meat and vegetables for a few minutes to let the flavours mix into the rice, and then add the water, bring to the boil, and leave about 20 minutes for the rice to cook.


check out this video for a basic overview of paella cooking technique using the Garcima burner :



Method

  • Using the inner ring of the paella burner on a medium to high temperature, add a good dash of olive oil and the chicken and chorizo, and cook together well, stirring often. The meats will release their own oils, and will mix together to start forming a great flavour base. Cook the meats well ensuring the chicken especially is cooked through. If you are just using the inner rings of the pan, you can move the meat outwards as it starts to cook through. Don’t be afraid of overcooking, as you will be adding water later to cook the meat in the water.
  • Once the meat is looking nicely browned and cooked through, move it toward the edge of the pan, and deglaze with a good splash of white wine or white wine vinegar. Add onions, garlic, about 2/3 of your capsicums, and tomato paste to the centre of the pan and cook together. This is called the sofrito, and is the vegetable base for your paella. Once the onion starts to become translucent add the beans, and cook together. Mix with the meat and continue cooking together.
  • Next we will add paprika, but just remember that paprika burns easily, so we want to have our stock and measured water close by. Add the paprika to the sofrito and meat mixture and stir together for a minute. Once the paprika has thoroughly mixed, and before it starts to burn, add your 1 litre of stock, and your 1 litre of measured water.
  • Paella rice needs about a 2:1 water to rice mixture to cook. Since you have just added 2 litres of water and stock, this is your cooking quantity of water. Take a measurement of how full the pan is, often you can take a mental reading off one of the rivets by the handles. You will need to remember this level later when you add your rice.
  • Once you have taken your reading of the 2 litres of water level, add more water until the pan is full to the brim. Add a half a gram of saffron now, and turn all the gas rings of the burner up to full, to bring the liquid to the boil. Since we are using saffron threads not powder, saffron needs the boiling water to release its colour and flavour.
  • Once the liquid is boiled turn the heat on both rings back down to a simmer, and reduce the level of the water stirring occasionally. This simmering process creates a stock blending all of the flavours in the pan. Simmer the water down until you get to the level in the pan which you made a mental note of before. You are now ready to add the rice.
  • Add the rice in a spreading motion to get a good distribution throughout the pan. At this stage you can quickly stir the paella if you need to to get a good mixture, but it will come quickly back to the boil. Remember once the rice starts cooking put that stirrer away, you never stir a paella once the rice is in and the water has boiled. Keep the heat on a low simmer. The rice will take about 20 minutes to cook.
  • As the rice cooks you will start to see it expanding as it absorbs the stock. Rice should be cooked al dente similar to how you would cook pasta. To see if it is done break a grain apart, it should be coloured all the way through except for a little white in the centre. Try some it should be soft but never sticky or creamy. A good paella rice is vital at this stage. If you have substituted Arborio rice for paella rice, your paella will be creamy like a risotto.
  • As the rice cooks, take your remaining capsicum, and arrange them in a fan like pattern for presentation. Once the pools of moisture on the surface of the rice have disappeared, it means the rice has absorbed all the moisture in the pan. To prevent it from drying out, cover with foil.
  • When the rice is done, if you listen very carefully, it will start to make a very faint crackling sound. This is the prized soccarat, or paella crust, starting to form at the base of the pan. You can turn the heat up a touch but be very careful, you want your rice crust toasted but not burned. When you start to smell a slight toasting scent, turn the heat off, and your paella is done. If in doubt you are safer to turn off the heat early rather than risk burning the paella.
  • Garnish with your lemon pieces also arranged in a fan like pattern, and sprinkle chopped parsley across the top of the paella, and serve.

Traditionally, paella is eaten from the pan, with each guest having a ‘slice’ and working their way in from the outside. Of course you can also serve from a dish with a sprinkle of lemon juice.

Some of the good paella recipes we have found around the web :

http://www.finecooking.com/articles/how-to/paella.aspx




 

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