So friends asked me to help out at a birthday party for 40. What feeds the masses? Well rice does and I happen to have a huge paella dish available for such occasions. What can I say it was so much fun and with a little help stirring and checking seasoning (I had terrible weather allergies!!!) it was a huge (pun intended) success.
Obviously me being me I wanted to research as authentic a recipe as I could while adding my own local twist.
First I had to find the rice – now I needed 3.5kg and I couldn’t find the traditional bomba or calasparra rice which was disappointing but that is why google is so awesome!! What you’re looking for in a paella rice is one which absorbs a lot of liquid (up to 3 times the quantity of rice) but holds its shape. Arborio can be used but I found a reserva carnaroli which was fabulous – not too creamy and absorbs so much stock! Wow! So that worked out perfect.
What I found was a common and very important factor of the prep was a tomato sauce called sofrito. sofrito is basically made up of tomato pulp, onions and garlic cooked slow in order to reduce to a very thick and dehydrated tomato paste which is dark in colour and super tasty flavour wise – but hey we’re mediterraneans so we know all about tomato sauce, right?
Second important part of the recipe is a good stock. So i bought some chicken necks, a half dozen wings and a few carcasses from my chicken supplier and got to work on a basic stoc – including the usual suspects – carrots, celery, onions, peppercorns and salt. Left that to work its magic for a few hours. Alternatively you can opt for a fish stock.
Next I needed to decide on the meats of choice – I chose boneless chicken legs but the options seem endless! Pork belly, chorizo sausage, rabbit – so most white meats..
The seafood is also very optional – I opted for local Rossi prawns and some beautiful black mussels. Choice is calamari, baby squids, clams, white fish fillets… As opulent as you could imagine really! Yumm.
I’m going to give you my recipe for 40/50people because I worked very hard at building the recipe as I couldn’t find one online! If it can help out just one person that would be enough! 🙂
4kilos of fresh local tomatoes – pulped
2 kilos of red onions – blitz
4 tablespoons olive oil
1whole head of garlic
Cook down for 2hours minimum (real low and slow)
500g chicken necks
750g chicken wings
8ltrs water (topped up as reduced)
10 pepper corns
4 tablespoons sea salt
Cooled and fat skimmed off surface
2 Schwartz jars of saffron – wrapped in foil, lightly toasted on lid of stockpot then crushed in a pestle and mortar – added to the stock
8 coloured peppers – roasted and skinned
2kg onions chopped finely
10 local garlic cloves
1.5kg local French beans
1kg frozen peas
2ltrs boiled water
4kg of boneless chicken legs – skin removed, cut into bite size pieces
1kg local Rossi prawns (about 65)
2kg mussels (steamed till just opened)
Smoked paprika – 150g
Sea salt – 150g – to taste but there abouts even a bit more…. The last thing you want is a chalky flavoured dish
Quite a bit of pepper lol.freshly ground.
Method to the madness – total cooking time 1.15 of which 45mins is just rice
Heat up the stock to a simmer, keep warm till ready to use
Turn the heat up high on your paella cooker
Add olive oil and chicken, add smoked paprika
Fry till golden
Add onions and galic, cooking till translucent,
Add sofrito and turn down the heat
Add half the chopped peppers, turn heat up again
Add the rice in a cross shape across the pan – this helps stirring. Use two wooden spoons and stir in circular motion, making sure all the sofrito mixture and rice are coated. Now you’ll be working fast!! Add half the hot stock, the French beans and peas and let the mixture bubble. You’ll want the rice to be submerged. Once you see the rice bubbling and coming to the surface add the rest of the stock and stir making sure no rice is sticking to the bottom. Once he stock has yet again reduced add the 2ltrs of boiling water (this can be substituted with a good white wine) and add the seasoning. Turn down the heat.
Taste your rice, you should be about 15minutes away from being ready… Now stop stirring! add the prawns and mussels, try to decorate around the dish. These will take around 5 minutes to cook. At this point you should start hearing a little crackle in the bottom of the pan. DO NOT WORRY… This is a great sign, infact if you manage a little crust on the bottom of the paella pan that is a huge success! This is called the ‘socarrar’ and it is a highly anticipated part of a paella! switch off the heat and leave to rest for 5 more minutes. Season with chopped parsley and lemon wedges. I used 8 local lemons cut into 6 wedges and around 150g of finely chopped parsley.
Oh and now you can relax!!! 🙂 phew what an adrenalin rush! I love it!!!!