Clearly tired of the repeated and long-winded stories of my “Spanish Paella”, my family and friends decided to get me a serious paella pan for Christmas and insist that I break it in with a proper, Kenton-style paella on the deck of our last evening of holiday. (Very little Spanish but lots of good old Eastern Cape style in it.)
400g calamari rings
400g prawns, deveined
400G fresh firm white fish fillets (cut into 3x3cm cubes)
250g or 15-20 fresh, shell-on mussels (if you can’t get fresh ones, find the best you can at the deli)
150g Chorizo sausage
400g deboned chicken thighs (cut into pieces – 3x3cm and rubbed with paprika)
200g diced bacon (optional)
2 x chopped red onion
1 x each – red, yellow & green pepper, cut into julienne strips
1 x punnet sugar snap peas
Large handful flat-leafed parsley, roughly chopped
1 litre chicken stock
300ml good dry white wine or rosé
1 Tbs sweet, smoked paprika (use this to coat the chicken pieces)
500g Risotto or Aborio rice, uncooked
2 x large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 large sprig fresh thyme
4 large cloves garlic, chopped
A pinch of saffron (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
A good glug or 3 of olive oil
Add the saffron and wine to the warm stock and stir. Set aside.
Place the paella pan over direct heat (medium) and add the olive oil, toss in the Chorizo and bacon, fry until crisp and remove, next add the chicken and brown nicely, remove and set aside.
Add the prawns and sear until they are just pink and nicely coloured (only about 3 mins) – remove and set aside. Now do the same with the calamari.
The onions and garlic, sauté until soft, then add the thyme, tomatoes and peppers and another glug of olive oil, stir for 3 minutes. You now have a nice Sofrito (an aromatic base for your rice).
Sprinkle the rice gently over the Sofrito and stir constantly so the rice can start absorbing all that flavour, then start adding the stock mix slowly so the rice can absorb it, stirring regularly.
Once about half the stock has been absorbed, stir in the chicken, Chorizo and bacon.
Slowly stir in the rest of the stock until it is 95% absorbed. (Do not cover at all during this stage, just stir gently and allow the flavours to develop and the rice to absorb the stock.)
Once the stock is mostly absorbed, add the fish and sugar snap peas and stir in gently, taking care not to break the fish up, then layer the calamari, prawns and mussels over the top and cover with foil or a lid and turn up the heat for about 5 mins, until you smell the rice starting to toast.
It is very important that the rice toasts at the bottom. This crispy, umami, semi-burned base is called the “socarrat” and it is the key to a great paella.
Once the socarrat is crispy, remove from the heat and cover the paella with a towel and allow to rest for 5 to 10 mins.
Your paella should now be ready. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and add the lemon wedges, serve with soDme buttery avos, a leafy salad, good friends and a crisp Chenin Blanc. DM