Recipe for Mixed Paella or Sunshine on a Plate
I’m posting this recipe with a serious warning, if you cook this paella and share it with your friends, you will be invited to more summer parties than you ever have been before! You will have a shelf full of invitations because people will welcome you bringing sunshine on a plate to their parties, even when it is raining in the middle of an English summer.
If it is your own party, you will have queues of returning quests at your buffet table, because as they devour the
smoked paprika and saffron flavoured rice, with the tender chicken and lightly cooked seafood, subconsciously, they will be thinking of summer holidays and happy times. Wouldn’t you go back for more?
On MasterChef I cooked a seafood paella, rather than the mixed meat and seafood one you have here. You are presented with an inherent challenge when putting fish and seafood into a paella. Most fish, apart from something like octopus, takes very little cooking. The rice however takes some time to cook. There is an art to when you include the seafood. I will say now that the first time I cooked fish separately was on MasterChef. I advise that you add it towards the end of the cooking time.
I make absolutely no excuses for the fact that my paella is not an authentic paella, in that I don’t use rabbit and I do use chorizo. I don’t think you should be worrying about authenticity as a home cook; I think you should be focussed on pleasing the people for whom you are cooking.
To my mind one of the great things about the British home cook is that they are willing to have a go at tackling the cuisines of other cultures rather than being shackled by the worries of authenticity.
Should You Use a Home Made Stock?
In my opinion, a home made stock transforms this dish because it is a dish that relies on deeply flavoursome rice. Using a home made stock provides you with another opportunity to pack flavour into the rice.
In the past couple of years I have been converted to making my own chicken and fish stock. It is relatively easy for you to make both fish and chicken stock. The rewards you will reap, in terms of flavour, are well worth the effort that you will put into the process. It is even easier to make if you use a pressure cooker, which I do for a fish stock. I will post home made stock recipes very soon, but for now just use any recipe for home made stock. I really like Heston Blumenthal’s stock recipes.
If you’re not using a home made stock, I think the best commercial one is a reduced salt powdered vegetable bullion.
I recommend that you use two smoked paprikas in this recipe because together they increase the span of flavours. I love the piquancy of the hot smoked paprika, but it must be used sparingly because too much will ruin your dish. The dulce or sweet smoked paprika gives the dish it’s softness and depth. Part of the delight of cooking this dish is that the use of the smoked paprikas combined with the saffron create a beautiful rich brick red hue, so evocative of Spain.
I really do try to use produce which is in season. Obviously for some producd, such as tomatoes, seasonality is more aspiration than action; Can you imagine going a whole winter without a tomato? For this dish, I like to use flat runner beans, when they are in season, but if they are not available I will use peas, or anything else similar, that is available. This dish originates from poor Spanish peasants. After having read As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning by Laurie Lee, I’m pretty sure that any self respecting Spanish peasant would have substituted ingredients as available. I would encourage you to do the same.
- 3-4 tablespoons of rape seed oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoons of smoked paprika picante, (hot)
- 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika dulce, (sweet and mild)
- 2 teasoons of saffron strands, previously soaked in hot water
- ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds
- 500g chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
- 200g chorizo for cooking
- 4 or 5 fresh tomatoes, quartered
- 1 glass of dry white wine
- 600g paella rice
- 1.5 litres chicken stock
- Cinnamon stick
- 250g flat green runner beans, chopped on the diagonal
- 1 large heaped tablespoon of frozen peas
- 1 previously roasted pepper, chopped lengthways into strips (I often use the roasted ones from a jar)
- 6-8 King Prawns
- 250g mussels, cleaned and prepared
- Lemon divided into 8 equal sections
- Large bunch of parsley to garnish
- Divide the chicken thighs into two pieces each.
- Heat oil in paella pan or large frying pan and when hot add onion and cook for about 5-6 minutes on a medium heat until translucent,
- Add both paprikas and fry for a minute or two
- Add the finely chopped garlic and fry for two minutes longer
- Add the fresh tomatoes and cook for a further minute or two
- Add the wine and turn heat up, bringing the contents of pan to the boil and boil rapidly for between 3-5 minutes, so that the alcohol in the wine evaporates.
- Add the saffron strands and the water in which it was soaked
- Push the onions to the side of the pan and add the chicken pieces and fry until lightly brown.
- Add the chorizo, fry for a couple of minutes
- Add the rice and cook for a minute or two, ensuring all the rice is covered in the paprika mixture.
- Add the fennel seeds
- Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil, add salt and pepper and reduce to simmer
- Add the cinnamon stick
- Now stir frequently, but not all the time for about between 15 minutes, then add whatever green vegetables you intend to use, beans, frozen peas etc and leave for a further
- and 20 minutes, until most of the stock has been absorbed by the rice. The rice should be tender but not soft
- Add the king prawns and mussels a few minutes before the dish is fully cooked, stir them into the rice and leave to cook for one minute, cover with a glass lid if possible.