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No Cheat Paella

Posted by c5 on 2006.01.03 at 01:39
food mood: extra-special
The 2005 Weirdok Xmas Party was a blast. Too bad Marby and Big Boy couldn't join us that evening. But it was pretty good to catch up with Jiggy -- finally!

To be honest, one of the reasons why I was soooo looking forward to that party (or any party hosted at my place, for that matter) is because it was an opportunity to flex a bit fo culinary muscles for an audience (read: guinea pigs haha) with huge appetites. Way, way before the party was being planned, I had already made up my mind to make traditional paella because (1) the paellera was being a complete Waste of Space in the kitchen cupboard, (2) paella is one of my favourite things, and (3) I wanted to make the Xmas party food extra special this year.

So here it is, my No Cheat Paella. Thus named because there no shortcuts were taken, and no flavour extenders (i.e., canned tomato sauce, MSG) were used.

arborio rice (about 4 cups)
chicken thighs (half kilo)
prawns (half kilo, peeled and de-veined)
Chorizo Del Rey (sliced)
Chorizo Pamplona (sliced)
Chorizo Bilbao (sliced)
tomatoes (3 cups, stewed and peeled, then minced)
saffron (half a packet)
olive oil
green peas (about a cup)
onions (1 white, 1 red, minced)
garlic (five cloves, minced)
lime wedges (two limes)
Spanish paprika (dry)
cumin (ground)
cayenne pepper (dry)
salt and pepper
water (8 cups)

paellera (15-inch, seasoned with vegetable oil)
knife and cutting board
bowl to marinate chicken in

Season the chicken thighs with Spanish Paprika, cumin, cayenne and ground pepper, making sure that all chicken pieces have been covered with the dry rub, and then marinate them in the fridge for at least 3 hours.

Heat olive oil in the paellera then brown the chicken. Set aside when the chicken pieces are half-cooked.

Sautee the chorizos in the same oil you used for the chicken. Once the oil turns a nice golden red colour (or if the oil begins to assume the colour of the chorizos), take the chorizos out and set aside.

Sweat the onions in the chorizo-flavoured oil, until the onions are clear. Add the minced garlic and tomatoes. Add the saffron. Mix everything together until the stuff turns into one congealed, oily mess. Add more olive oil if the mixture becomes too thick.

Add the rice and mix it with the tomato-garlic-onion-olive oil, making sure that the rice is well-coated. Even out the distribution of the rice throughout the paellera, then pour the first four cups of water to cover the rice.

Once the water starts to bubble, place the half-cooked chicken pieces on the rice. Distribute the chorizos as well. Tuck the chicken and chorizos in the rice. Pour the next two cups of water over everything.

At this point, it is important to watch out for inconsistencies in how the paellera is being heated. Observe if there are sections of the paellera that are not cooking at the same rate at the rest. You will need to watch the rice carefully for this. Sections that are not getting too much heat will have rice that's not fully cooked, and the sections that are getting too much heat will dry out quicker. Move the paellera around the burner to distribute the heat more evenly. If a section becomes too dry but the rice remains half-cooked, pour a bit of water on that section.

Once the water is bubbling evenly over everything, tuck the prawns in the rice, distributing the pieces evenly througout the paellera. Once the prawns turn orange, add the green peas. Cook for another two minutes then turn the heat off.

If you want to have that nice crunchy section in the bottom of your paella, turn the fire on high heat for about 1 minute before turning off the heat. You'll know you're getting the crunchy stuff when you begin to smell burnt rice. You'll also know that you should turn off the heat by then.

Place lime (or lemon) wedges on the paella before serving.

Note: Cooking paella takes major practice. I've cooked paella a few times already and everytime feels like I'm doing it for the first time. Makes me feel all Like a Virgin all the time -- which is why cooking paella is so much fun!


servings fairlycloudy at 2006-01-05 05:58 (UTC) (Link)
I am so sad I wasn't able to taste this. What a loser!
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