Since I first had Paella on holiday as a kid, almost 30 years ago I was hooked. Fast forward 15 years and I had my first adult holiday to Ibiza and even though none of my friends wanted it, I had to have paella. The resulting individual paella for one was so obviously pulled out of the freezer and was a sad and lonely imitation of the paella of my youth but still I was in paella heaven. 5 years later and, for my 30th birthday we went to Ibiza, and this time I had the most fabulous of paella in Ibiza old town, surrounded by friends who appreciated the beauty that is a well made paella. It was also on this trip that I bought my now well worn paella dish.
Now I am no purist when it comes to paella. There are those who say it needs to be meat only or fish only or its not paella but to my mind the beauty of this dish is that its completely up to you what you put into it. My friend and colleague girlmeetsveg does a brilliant post about vegetable paella here (using my paella pan which she has finally returned!!) My lack of purity also extends to the pan – any low sided wide bottomed pan will do, as long as you have a lid. I made this one in my wide cast iron casserole, as my pan was elsewhere.
For me its Paella’s total flexibility that appeals to my (not so) inner gemini. I love a mixed paella – which for me includes the omnipresent chorizo, chicken thighs and mixed seafood. it doesn’t include beans but does include peas and capsicums as i just feel these taste right with the dish.
- Chicken thighs (I like skin off and bone out but its up to you)
- Chorizo cut into chunky slices
- A large onion diced
- red and yellow peppers sliced
- Paella Rice
- Chicken Stock infused with Saffron
- Tin of chopped tomatoes
- Frozen peas
- Mixed frozen Seafood OR… Raw king prawns, Squid rings and Mussels
- Parsley chopped roughly
First boil a kettle and create your stock. I use chicken stock in a bottle. add in a large pinch of the saffron and allow to infuse. Whilst the stock does its thing fry the chicken thighs in olive oil until well browned in your pan then set aside.
Add chopped onion & chorizo to the pan and cook through for 10 minutes, adding in peppers at 5 minutes in. This will make the most of any caramelised chickeny bits and slick the whole pan with smoked paprika goodness.
Next add the Paella rice and coat in the oil to allow this to toast slightly, it will also absorb any juices given off by the veggies and chorizo. Then cover with the saffron infused chicken stock and bring up to the boil.
Add in the peas and reintroduce the chicken at this point. Next add in your tin of chopped tomatoes. shuffle the pan to ensure it all combines and then put the lid on, bringing the temperature down so you get a nice slow simmer.
After 30 minutes check that most of the liquid has been absorbed. Then strew your frozen seafood over & pop the lid back on for another 10 minutes. At this point turn the hob off and take the lid off, tasting a little rice, which should be ever so slightly al dente.
If its not yet cooked then pop the lid on and allow to steam in its own heat for another 5 or 10 minutes. If all ok then sprinkle with parsley and lemon wedges and bring to the table and share family style.
This is an amazing one pot dish which is really low maintenance. in fact you shouldn’t stir it once the liquid has been added to allow the dish to form. its also really family friendly as you can all serve from the dish and have as little or as much as you like, even avoiding the bits you don’t like.