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OMG! The Best Paella Ever

The sun is setting behind the Brindabellas, the picturesque backdrop to the veranda of my Australian home.

Sunset from my backyard out across the Brindabella Mountain Range – Photo by Aussy Phelps

The air is balmy and smells of fresh cut grass and spring flowers. The sounds of Spanish guitar whisk me away to another world.

Sunset through the tomato plant in my kitchen garden

I have a glass of chilled mock fruit sangria in one hand, and a fork in the other.

Strawberry & Mandarin mocktails

Mouth-watering, I stare at the giant pan brimming with golden grains of rice decorated with herbs from my garden, lemons and smoky paprika. I just made an enormous paella.

The finished product – Paella

You’ll need a paella pan, a metal pan that is slightly bigger and deeper than the traditional kitchen pan. Short-grained, rounded rice that has the ability to absorb all the flavors of the other ingredients and to grow in volume, up to three times its original size.

LOOK – A Giant Paella Pan

The excellent thing about paella is that there really is no set recipe, it all comes down to your taste preferences. Some like it moist and juicy, others prefer it dry with a crispy layer at the bottom. Some like to add seafood, meat or chicken, others like to mix it all together. Mine is a combination of chicken, seafood and Spanish chorizo infused with saffron, a fragrant and perfume-like spice often referred to as ‘culinary gold’, although this batch is not as golden as I’d like it to be, because I ran out of Saffron. #sadface

I’d love to know, what deliciousness have you created or consumed in your kitchen this week?

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35-45 minutes

  • 2.5lt chicken stock
  • 880g (4 cups) short-grain rice
  • 4 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 3 small brown onions, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 4 ripe tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 red capsicum, deseeded, finely chopped
  • 4 chorizo sausages, thickly sliced diagonally
  • Salt and pepper
  • 16 green tiger prawns, peeled and deveined
  • 4 (about 400g) chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

Step 1 – Combine the stock and saffron in a saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and hold at a simmer, covered. While most people would throw the heads and the shells of the prawns away, I say utilise their delicious taste and boil them in salted water to create a stock to be poured over the rice too.

Step 2 – Fry the diced chicken and chorizo in olive oil until lightly browned. Move aside to the cooler part of your paella pan so you can get cracking with the sauce that consists of finely chopped capsicum, garlic, onion, paprika and tomatoes cooked in the juices from the chicken and chorizo. Stir for two minutes before evenly spreading the rice in the paella pan. Move the rice around with a wooden spoon. Give the rice a couple of minutes to absorb the taste and aroma of the red sauce before continuing. Then add the prawns and throw away your wooden spoon – you do not stir the paella after this.

Step 3 – Add plenty of stock because the rice will expand and rise. Let your paella cook for about 25 minutes on a low fire. Remove from heat and cover with a tea towel for another 5 minutes to allow a crust to form.

Step 4 – Spoon paella among serving plates and serve with fresh herbs & lemon.

This dish is a little time consuming, but really not as intimidating to make as it may seem. Plus the gorgeous presentation and punchy flavours guarantee this dish is going to be a crowd pleaser!

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