A couple of weeks back a good friend of mine showed up on my door step with a whole lot of food she had left over from a TV shoot they had been filming up here. I was chuffed to find I’d scored several packets of Calasparra paella rice (the one in the lovely creme and red cloth sack) high quality saffron, black salt and a couple of kilos of chicken oysters ( the tasty little morsels on the back of the chook and don’t worry these had been in the freezer!). Consequently I have spent to past few weeks telling myself I must make paella, so last weekend I did exactly that.
Make sure you gather a crowd, approx 8 mouths should do be able to polish it off without too much difficulty.
Here’s the recipe, but please use only the best ingredients, if you want to make a crowd pleasing paella. The rice is really important, you can usually buy Calasparra at a good deli.
Chicken & Pork Paella
1/2 cup olive oil
2 large brown onions, chopped
1 large red capsicum, chopped
1 large green capsicum, chopped
1 head garlic, halved
1 bunch thyme
3 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
3 ripe tomatoes, chopped
generous pinch saffron threads soaked in 1/2 cup water
1 pork leg steak, chopped (include some of the fat for extra flavour)
500g chicken oyster or chicken thigh fillets, chopped
500g calasparra rice
2 litres homemade chicken stock
To start off you will need to make a soffrito – a combo of slow cooked onions and capsicum, this will be your flavour base, so please no rushing and no burning of the onions!!
Heat the oil in a paella pan, i used one of the black and white enamel ones. Add the onion, capsicum, garlic and strips the leaves off 8 sprigs of thyme, cook the oil over a medium heat for 15 minutes or until the onions are soft and golden brown. Add the smoked paprika, tomatoes and saffron threads with the soaking water and cook until the tomatoes skins soften (if you want to you can peel the tomatoes but i don’t cause life is too short).
Add the pork and chicken and cook until browned, dont rush this part. Check the pan to see if it has enough oil, you may need to add a bit more as you are looking to create a crunchy base for your paella, not a risotto, so you want to fry the rice then add the liquid and not stir it again.
Ok so now add the rice into the hot oil, fry the rice and stir it to ensure the rice grains are coated with the oil, then add the stock. Leave it now for about 20-30 minutes or until the rice is tender, cooking time will vary depending on the size of your element, ideally cook it on a barbecue or an open fire, I cooked mine over the wok burner and just kept on turning it. You may also need to add some extra liquid if its starts to dry out before the rice is cooked.
When the rice is cooked, cover the pan with foil and allow to stand for 5 minutes, this helps release the crunchy base from the bottom of the pan. Finish it off with some extra time leaves, a few pinches of smoked paprika, some black salt if you have any or sea salt if you don’t. Squeeze a bit of lemon over and take it to the table.
*Please note that the pic shown is the paella whilst it is still cooking, there should be no liquid visible once the rice is tender.
Served 5 adults and 6 kids with plenty of room for seconds