Are you one of those ambitious cooks who likes to go out on a limb? Or a gadget-y chef who can’t get enough of specialised equipment? Or finally, are you someone who loves Spain? The flamenco, the tapas, the flagrant disregard for sleep?
If you answered yes to any of the above, a paella party is for you.
Paella is a one-dish wonder but there is a lot of technique involved in getting it right. From creating the socarrat (the caramelised crust on the bottom), to ensuring that the proteins and rice are perfectly seasoned and cooked, it’s not as easy as it may look.
The first thing you will need is the right pan. It needs to be wide, flat and preferable heavy gauge metal. Some people will even go as far as buying a freestanding gas burner that fits the bottom of their pan perfectly but this is definitely a purchase for the true gadget lovers or professionals. For your average home cook, you just need something that fits in the oven and is safe to use on the cooktop.
The second thing is quality ingredients. A traditional paella will include chorizo, prawns and chicken, as well as short-grain rice (bomba rice, if you can get it, is the best), saffron, white wine, good quality stock, as well as a few veggies, garlic, lemons and herbs for colour.
Hot tip: do not use frozen peeled prawns as they are watery and flavourless. You want fresh, green prawns or leave them out altogether.
For the chicken, thighs or legs are the best because they don’t dry out in the oven as quickly as breast meat.
For the chorizo, try to find properly cured Spanish chorizo. There’s plenty of sausages masquerading as chorizo in the refrigerator section of the supermarket but they don’t have the desired depth of flavour and they will fall apart when you cut them up.
So, now you have a pan, the ingredients and you’re ready to rock. But what about accompaniments? Surely you don’t just eat a big bowl of paella and call it a night?
Well, no. In Spain, eating is an art form; one that is time-consuming and elaborate. To throw a proper paella party, you will need to invest a little extra effort in making some tapas and sangria to get things going while your paella cooks.
Here is a basic, classic paella recipe:
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon boiling water
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 chicken thigh fillets, trimmed, cubed
2 chorizo, thickly sliced
1 large brown onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups white short-grain rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup of white wine
12 large green prawns, peeled (tails intact), deveined
1 cup frozen peas
Lemon wedges, to serve
Combine saffron and boiling water in a heatproof jug. Stand for five minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a 28cm (base) pan with a heat resistant handle over medium-high heat. Add chicken. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Add chorizo, onion and garlic to pan. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until onion has softened. Add saffron mixture and paprika. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomato. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until softened.
Add rice. Stir to coat. Add stock and wine. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to medium. Return chicken
Top rice with prawns and peas.
Place pan in the oven for 45 minutes on a medium heat or until rice is tender. Serve with lemon wedges.
If you love the idea of throwing a paella party but doing it yourself sounds too hard, never fear. The team at Food Adventura have got you covered. They will bring the equipment, ingredients and know-how to plate up tantalising tapas and perfect paella. And guess what? They clean up afterwards.
Click here for more information about how to throw a paella party in Sydney.