Friday, April 25, 2008

Paella a la maison

You didn't think I would post anything else other than Paella after our trip, did you ?

I used to only rely on X to prepare paella or order from a restaurant. Remember I talked about a true test of how much you like a dish - well paella is another one of mine. So I decided that I must learn how to make it. After a few failed attempts, I think I have finally gotten it right. I don't claim that this is an authentic recipe - after all what is ? a google search will turn up a gazillion different ways of making paella. And for starters, I don't even use a paella pan. But it is pretty darn good, if I may say so myself & X likes it too (which is a big plus).

Paella (the way I make it)
serves 4 or 6

1 onion, cut vertically in quarters
1 green pepper, seeds removed & sliced
1 red pepper, seeds removed & sliced
2 carrots, sliced
3-4 chicken leg, cut to bite size pieces
12-15 shrimps, whole & trimmed of whiskers (is that what they are called?)
calamari, cut to bite size pieces
baby octopus, if you can find any
1 tsp saffron
500 ml chicken stock * see notes
1 chorizo sausage, sliced
350g Uncle Ben's rice
olive oil
1.5 cups of white wine or water
1 lemon (garnish)

1. Prepare an oven tray & generously drizzle olive oil at the bottom

2. In a small pot, add the saffron to the chicken stock & bring to a boil. Then simmer. Add salt, if necessary

3. Fry onions, carrots & peppers in olive oil for 5 mins. Then add to oven tray

4. Fry chicken till brown. Then add to tray

5. Fry sausages. Then add to tray

6. Fry calamari, shrimps & octopus - about half know what's next....yup then add to tray

7. Add the rice into the oven tray

8. Pour the stock over until it half covers the tray. If you add too much, the rice will become mushy. You can always add more later.

9. Cover with aluminium foil (to prevent the ingredients from drying) & put it in the oven at 190C for about 1.5 to 2 hours until the rice is cooked. Every half an hour or so, stir up the rice & if the stock is all soaked up, add more stock. I can't figure out how to cut down cooking time cos it seems to take at least 1.5 hours for the rice to be cooked (sometimes even longer).

10. At this point, you must be wondering what about the mussels. Well I don't add the mussels in the beginning cos they generate too much juice & makes the rice really mushy. So I usually steam them first. Bring 1.5 cups of water or wine to a boil, then add in the mussels. Cover till steam is coming out from under the lid. The mussels are now ready. Remove any that are not open. Drain & set aside. When the rice is almost done, add the mussels & return the paella to the oven. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

11. Serve paella with a wedge of lemon, if anybody wants it.


a. If I have a whole chicken, I will cut out the parts I need & then use the bones to make the stock. If not, use chicken stock cubes. I said 500 ml but I don't really know exactly how much. Just add more until the rice is cooked.

b. The tricky part is to make sure the rice is cooked. You'll need to be patient & make sure the rice is really done. There is nothing worse than paella with uncooked rice.


Beau Lotus said...

The Italians usually eat their risotto not cooked thru and I think I get indigestion from that.

Anyway I was sidetracking as usual. Wanted to say that your paella looked gorgeous only how you got over the golden rule (according to the Valenciens I've met) of NEVER touching the paella once you've assembled it and put it into the oven I wonder.

petite fleur said...

Well I did make a caveat that mine is not an authentic recipe. I think the reason to not touch the paella is so that the rice will burn at the bottom which is the best part (we don't have a rice cooker so I cook rice in a pot & I deliberately burn the rice cos the Girl likes it that way).

Since I'm not even cooking it in a paella pan, I don't think it makes any difference.