28 August 2015

MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

2015 turned out to be one of the craziest of years yet, with literally no time for cooking, picture taking, let alone blogging. Nevertheless, I want to capture our favourite recipes of this summer. Having started the year with a weekend in Barcelona - and it's usually this first trip that sets the food mood for our remaining kitchen year, what better way to celebrate the last hot summer days than with a Spanish Paella. There seems to be no one authentic paella recipe, as paella either depends on the region in Spain that it comes from, such as the Valencian Paella, the mother of paellas, made with chicken, pork, rabbit and even snails, or simply on the ingredients used, i.e. sea food, or meat-only paella, with or without beans and various vegetables.

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

This recipe is for mixed paella, in Spanish: 'Paella Mixta', and I like to make it this way, as I like the combination of chicken, chorizo and prawns. The recipe I follow is pretty old and well tested, if not so say fool-proof - well it's from Delia Smith, so what do you expect - easy, fast, tastes pretty authentic, and, best of all, is so fresh and works every time. I discovered it many years ago in one of her cook books, and in fact I like it so much that I never even considered trying another or changing it. Having said that, the Valencian
paella does sound intriguing, and is definitely on our to-do-list. I adjusted the quantities of some of the larger items of the original Delia recipe to fit my new smaller 'birthday' pan, but leaving the spice quantities almost the same, which creates an even tastier version. Also, for some reason I misread 1 heaped tsp paprika and added 1 heaped Tbsp paprika, which adds a light bitterness to the dish, and we like it just like that. Fragrant rice, with a warm and earthy aroma of paprika, and almost medicinal-scented saffron, with spicy pieces of chorizo, and tasty chicken, in contrast with the sweetness of peas, peppers, and fresh seafood, all blending together and absorbing the beautiful paella flavours during cooking - and not to forget a drizzle of lemon at the end - YUM!

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

My size pan holds enough for  about three greedy big eaters, or four with a more polite modest appetite, which unfortunately leaves no big chance for second helpings or next day leftovers. But not having a gas hob, the smaller size pan works much better in my case, as it means I don't have to constantly shift an oversized pan around on the hob to make sure the pan receives even heat in all places. One disadvantage with my new stainless steel pan, versus the old, large cast-iron, is that it is somehow non-stick and does not easily create the nice burnt-on rice layer on the bottom, the so called 'socarrat', a must for a proper Paella. I remember my first ever Paella and the amount of time we spent scraping off those crusty tasty bits at the end. This crust is created automatically when making the paella on an open fire or in a cast-iron pan, but more difficult to achieve on a hob. Must experiment more with turning up the heat at the end to get that famous crust. In any case, make sure to let the paella sit for 5 minutes after cooking, covered with a clean tea towel to absorb some of the remaining steam. Also: the rice in the pan should come to no higher than 4 cm, so make sure to use the right size pan depending on the number of eaters. PS, according to Wikipedia some Spanish like to call the mixed paella the 'Tourist paella', because I guess it's mostly made and enjoyed by us non-Spaniards. But that is after all what we are and like to be as many times as possible every year: Happy Tourists! Nothing wrong with that! :-)

Recipe Source: Paella, Delia Smith, How to Cook, Part II
(you can find the original ingredients for the larger pan on: deliaonline, or follow the recipe below, using the red quantities for the larger size pan)
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Serves app. 3-4 (for 6 using the bigger pan, see red items below)

Ingredients
200g/7oz (350g/12oz) preferably Calasparra, unwashed, or other paella rice (I use 'brillante' 'Tradicional' here in Brussels)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 chicken legs and 3 chicken wings (whole chicken, app. 1.35/3lb kg weight, jointed into 8 pieces)
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped into chunks
110g/4oz Spanish Chorizo in a piece, skin removed and cut into ½ inch (1 cm) dice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 heaped Tbsp mild paprika powder (1 heaped tsp)
¼ level tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp saffron strands
2-3 medium (ca. 225g/8oz) ripe red tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and roughly diced
700ml boiling water (1.2l / 2pints)
8 (12) raw tiger prawns, shell on, defrosted if frozen, 4 with heads, the remaining without
50g/2oz frozen shelled peas
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 unwaxed lemon, cut into wedges, to garnish

Also: a shallow paella pan: base diameter: 24 cm, top diameter: 30cm, capacity: 2 litres up to the rim
Pan dimensions of the original recipe: base diameter: 25.5 cm (10 inches) top diameter: 32.5 cm (13 inches), capacity: 7 pints (4 litres)
Important: the rice in the pan should not be higher than 4 cm, so make sure to use the right size pan depending on the number of eaters 

The dish is quite fast and relies on the steps to be followed quickly. For this reason it's best to prepare all ingredients in advance, including the boiling water. Make sure to follow all cooking times as accurately as possible and that the water does not unnecessarily evaporate during cooking breaks or delays to make sure that all ingredients are cooked and also the rice is soft at the same time. If nevertheless all water has evaporated or been absorbed before the rice is fully cooked, add a little boiling water to the pan if necessary, but this should really be avoided when cooking paella!

Peel, chop and prepare all ingredients. To peel the tomatoes, cut a cross on top of the tomatoes with a small pairing knife, then plunge them in a bowl with boiling water. Put them immediately into iced water. The skin should now peel off easily.

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA' SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'
SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA' SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

Season the chicken with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Heat the paella pan over fairly high heat, then add just enough olive oil so that the bottom of the pan is just covered. Add the chicken pieces to the hot pan and sauté on all sides until golden brown. Remove them to a plate. (If using a jointed whole chicken, fry it in batches.)

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

Add a little more oil to the pan, than add the soffritto: the onion, pepper and chorizo, and fry over medium heat for app. 6-8 minutes or until they are nicely browned at the edges. The longer, the darker and tastier the Paella will be. Add the garlic, paprika powder, cayenne and saffron to the pan and fry for another minute.

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

Add the chopped tomatoes, as well as 700ml (1.2l/2pints) boiling water, then season with plenty of salt and pepper and stir well. Once you are happy with the seasoning, add the chicken pieces back to the pan. Bring everything to a gentle simmer, turn the heat down and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. 

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

Remove the chicken pieces and set them aside, then pour the rice into the centre of the pan.

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

Bring everything back up to a boil, give it a final stir and simmer on low heat, still uncovered, for about 10 minutes. During this time, do not stir anymore, but shake the pan occasionally and move it around on the hob if the hob is not as big as the base of the pan. Return the chicken along with the prawns and peas to the pan and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked.

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

Shake the pan to make sure the rice is completely immersed. Turn the prawns over halfway through cooking. Once fully cooked they will turn pink.

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

To test if the paella is ready, try a little rice from the edges where it will cook the slowest. Once the rice is soft, remove the pan from the heat, cover with a clean tea-towel and leave to rest for app. 5 minutes to absorb some of the remaining steam. Meanwhile pre-heat the dinner plates.

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

Garnish the paella with lemon wedges and serve with a glass of good Spanish Rioja if you like.

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'


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MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'



SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'SPANISH MIXED PAELLA - 'PAELLA MIXTA'

Serves app. 3-4 
(for 6 using the bigger pan, see red items below)

200g/7oz (350g/12oz) preferably Calasparra, unwashed, or other paella rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 chicken legs and 3 chicken wings 
(whole chicken, app. 1.35/3lb kg weight, jointed into 8 pieces)
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped into chunks
110g/4oz Spanish Chorizo in a piece, skin removed and cut into ½ inch (1 cm) dice
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 heaped Tbsp mild paprika powder (1 heaped tsp)
¼ level tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp saffron strands
2-3 medium (ca. 225g/8oz) ripe red tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and roughly diced
700ml boiling water (1.2l / 2pints)
8 (12) raw tiger prawns, shell on, defrosted if frozen, 4 with heads, the remaining without
50g/2oz frozen shelled peas
salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 unwaxed lemon, cut into wedges, to garnish

Also: a shallow paella pan: base diameter: 24 cm, top diameter: 30cm, capacity: 2 litres up to the rim
Pan dimensions of the original recipe: base diameter: 25.5 cm (10 inches) top diameter: 32.5 cm (13 inches), capacity: 7 pints (4 litres)
Important: the rice in the pan should not be higher than 4 cm, so make sure to use the right size pan depending on the number of eaters

Peel, chop and prepare all ingredients. Season the chicken with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Heat the paella pan over fairly high heat, then add just enough olive oil so that the bottom of the pan is just covered. Add the chicken pieces to the hot pan and sauté on all sides until golden brown. Remove them to a plate. (If using a jointed whole chicken, fry it in batches.) Add a little more oil to the pan, than add the soffritto: the onion, pepper and chorizo, and fry over medium heat for app. 6-8 minutes or until they are nicely browned at the edges. The longer, the darker and tastier the Paella will be. Add the garlic, paprika powder, cayenne and saffron to the pan and fry for another minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, as well as 700ml (1.2l/2pints) boiling water, then season with plenty of salt and pepper and stir well. Once you are happy with the seasoning, add the chicken pieces back to the pan. Bring everything to a gentle simmer, turn the heat down and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces and set them aside, then pour the rice into the centre of the pan. Bring everything back up to a boil, give it a final stir and simmer on low heat, still uncovered, for about 10 minutes. During this time, do not stir anymore, but shake the pan occasionally and move it around on the hob if the hob is not as big as the base of the pan. Return the chicken along with the prawns and peas to the pan and continue to simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked. Shake the pan to make sure the rice is completely immersed. Turn the prawns over halfway through cooking. Once fully cooked they will turn pink. To test if the paella is ready, try a little rice from the edges where it will cook the slowest. Once the rice is soft, remove the pan from the heat, cover with a clean tea-towel and leave to rest for app. 5 minutes to absorb some of the remaining steam. Meanwhile pre-heat the dinner plates. Garnish the paella with lemon wedges and serve with a glass of good Spanish Rioja if you like.

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