Noticing there was a brilliant big paella pan in the villa we were staying in in La Palma, we decided to embrace our inner Spaniards and create a paella. So off we went to the local 'HiperDino' (supermarket) where we got incredibly carried away buying huge prawns, mussels and other seafood treats.
I love paella, because aside from being delicious and fairly easy to make, it really denotes a sense of occasion. You only make it when your having a bit of a family party, or a number of friends round for dinner. It's quite a grand dish I think (although I suppose it doesn't have to be quite as grand if you have any sense of control), using saffron and often mixed seafood. I always think it looks absolutely splendid when served steaming from the pan, like a giant golden sun beaming at you from the middle of the table. It's a real sharing dish, with everyone digging in and fighting over the prawns. It's a bit like a lucky dip, exciting to eat because it's full of hidden treasures, with ingredients varying from recipe to recipe- mussels, squid, chicken, rabbit, chorizo and prawns...whatever you choose to put in it really!
We made up our recipe as we went along, and if a Spanish person reads this, they'll probably be appalled. But it was really simple and tasted beautiful, and that's what counts for me. Obviously just make sure all your seafood and meat is cooked right through before serving:
4 chicken breasts
Chunk of chorizo (around 150g)
1 large onion (red or white)
2 cloves garlic
450g paella rice
2 litres chicken stock
2 good pinches saffron
Table spoon of Mixed Paella spice (if you can get it- we were able to buy this in a pot in the HiperDino)
2 handfuls of frozen peas
400g mussels (can use frozen)
2 big prawns per person
2 small squid, sliced into thin rings
1. Heat a really good glug of olive oil in a paella pan, over a medium heat.
2. Cut the chicken into chunks, and add to the pan. Fry for 5 mins or so, just to seal it.
3. Chop the chorizo into small pieces, and add to the pan. Stir continuously, and it will release a great smell and gorgeous paprika oil which will flavour the dish.
|Paprika oil seeping from the chorizo|
4. Next add a chopped onion, and a couple of cloves of crushed garlic. Fry for a few minutes, until the onion softens.
5. Then add the rice and stir, so that it is coated with the oils from the pan.
|Get that rice in|
|Make sure every grain is coated and glossy from oils of the pan|
6. Add the stock (you probably won't be able to fit it all in in one go, so in that case add it gradually), spices and saffron and stir. Cover with some foil, and allow to simmer on a medium heat for about 20 minutes.
|Hubbling and bubbling|
7. Add peas and the mussels and any remaining stock and stir. Then re-cover and cook for about 5-10 mins.
|Starting to come together now|
8. Place the prawns on top, re-cover and cook for 5 more mins.
9. Scatter the little squid rings on, and cook for a further 5 mins.
10. Once all the seafood is cooked and piping hot, remove from the heat and scatter lots of chopped parsley on top (this makes all the difference).
11. Season with salt and pepper, then serve with some good wedges of fresh lemon.
|Got my fair share! Serve with tons of fresh lemon juice.|