Tuesday, 26 July 2005

Paella Mixta

I've been wanting to post this for the longest time but I had to wait until I get a chance to cook it (not very often) and take a picture. Admittedly, even if in the Phils. this is a 'fiesta' quality dish, I've never really eaten this back home or maybe I did but did not like our first meeting. However, once I set foot here in Europe and had access to the ingredients needed for it, I set about hunting for a good recipe to religiously follow the directions. I got more fuel for it when I visited Valencia, the traditional home of paella, where I got to taste the authentic the real thing. As in my previous Valencia post, the original Paella Valenciana DO NOT have any seafood in it. Traditional ingredients for it include rabbit meat, chicken, broad beans, snails, other vegetables besides of course the rice. If the paella has seafood exclusively then it's called Paella Mariscos. While the one with mixed meats - red, white, seafood, et al - is called Paella Mixta, hence the name of this recipe.

This time around my paella was a bit on the 'wet' side since I put in a whole tin of chopped tomatoes (400gm). I didn't want to put in half and waste the other half however I forgot to reduce the amount of stock accordingly. Also, I think I have to be braver and not be constantly scared that the rice is undercooked. It's cooked alright but it's got more sauce than desired. Like any popular dish, there are hundreds of variations. You can put almost any combination of meat, seafood and/or veggies. Some even grill the top a little, some involves cooking the meat entirely separate from the rice and only combining them together at the end. I rather prefer Delia Smith's technique of cooking the chicken with the rice so that the flavour from the chicken is well infused in the rice. I have loosely adapted this from her How To Cook Book 2. Her instructions and most other recipes says not to stir it much after the rice has boiled. But I can't help it because the pan is so much bigger than the hob consequently the heat is not evenly distributed. Besides the meat will not be cooked well if I don't stir it. Another note, if you're going to cook this please use only paella rice such as Calasparra, Bomba, and Granza. The rice in it is supposed to be creamy and clinging a bit to each other but not exactly sticky - very similar to risotto. You wouldn't want to use long grain or Jasmine rice in your risotto, would you?

Paella Mixta

350 g  paella rice (calasparra, bomba, granza, etc.)
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
750 g  chicken - cut into serving pieces
1 large onion - chopped roughly
1 red bell pepper - diced into 1/2-inch pieces
110 g  chorizo - skinned and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1/4 tsp saffron strands
225 g  tomatoes - skinned and chopped
5 cups stock or water
10-12 raw tiger prawns, shell-on
1/2 cup frozen or fresh peas
salt and pepper
  1. In a 13-inch paella pan, heat oil then lightly brown chicken in batches. Set aside.
  2. Saute onion, bell pepper and chorizo for about 5 minutes in medium heat.
  3. Stir in garlic, paprika, cayenne (if using), saffron and cook for about 1 minute.
  4. Bring back the chicken to the pan, stir a little; then tomatoes.
  5. Add plenty of seasonings (salt and pepper) and pour in the stock.
  6. Bring to boil then simmer for 10 minutes uncovered.
  7. With a slotted spoon, remove chicken and set aside.
  8. Pour rice in the pan and stir.
  9. Bring back to boil, stir once or twice making sure rice is not sticking at the bottom. Lower down heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. As you simmer, move pan occasionally to distribute heat evenly since your pan is more likely to be a lot bigger than your cooking hob.
  10. Return chicken to the pan, cook for another 10 minutes while stirring occasionally (and *carefully* so as not to turn the rice into mush) and adding more liquid if necessary.
  11. Add prawns and peas and cook for another 5-10 minutes turning prawns half way through.
  12. Check rice if cooked especially ones at the outer edges. If not yet fully cooked, simmer for a few minutes more while keeping a close eye to make sure the bottom is not browning too much. Add more liquid if necessary.
  13. Remove from heat. Cover with a tea towel for about 5 minutes to absorb moisture. Serve with wedges of lemon.

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