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Greg's paella valenciana
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This recipe is adapted from Time-Life's „Die Küche in Spanien und Portugal“, published in 1970, a translation of an unnamed English version which was presumably called “The cooking of Spain and Portugal”. From experience, the translations occasionally changed the recipes for local use, so this may not be quite the same as the English edition.

Ingredients

For at 6 to 8 people. The quantities are intended for a paellera 35 cm in diameter and 5 to 6 cm high.

quantity       ingredient       step
400 g       chorizos or other hard smoked garlic pork sausage       1
8 (about 1.25 kg)       chicken drumsticks       2
      salt       2
      freshly ground black pepper       2
      olive oil       2
200 g       red or green capsicum       4
      olive oil       5
150 g       lean pork without bone, diced into ½ cm cubes       5
75 g       finely chopped onion       5
10 g       garlic, finely chopped       5
200 g       tomato, finely chopped       5
500 g       uncooked rice (preferably round grain or Arborio)       6
1½ l       boiling water       6
20 g       salt       6
2 g       saffron, powder or strands       6
250 g       shelled peas, fresh or frozen       8
8 (about 400 g)       big raw prawns       10
100 g       raw squid rings       10
12       mussels in their shell       10
      other seafood as desired       10
2       lemons, cut lengthwise into six pieces       12

Paella can be varied in its ingredients, you can for example add a lobster or leave the mussels out, or use rabbit instead of chicken. Diced ham or veal or beef can replace the chorizo and/or the pork. Green beans or artichoke hearts can replace the peas. The amount of saffron is a trade-off between price and taste; you can easily use double the quantity, but prices for saffron range between $5 and $100 per gram.

Ideally the seafood should be uncooked, but if it's not available, you can used cooked seafood. In this case don't cook it with the paella: warm it gently so that it doesn't get tough, and put it on the paella just before serving.

Preparation

  1. Pierce the chorizos a couple of times with a knife or fork, put into a saucepan with cold water, bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from water and cut into ½ cm thick slices.

  2. Season the drumsticks with 15 g salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil (or normal vegetable oil, if you prefer) in a heavy pan until light smoke appears (about 210°). Fry the drumsticks golden, then bake in an oven at 170° for 20 minutes:


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  4. Quickly fry the chorizo slices in the same pan, then let drip on kitchen paper. It's normal for them to smoke a lot.


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  6. Seed the capsicum and slice into pieces about 1×½ cm. Reserve for sofrito.

  7. Prepare the sofrito: pour all the remaining fat from the pan and add more olive oil. Add the diced pork and brown over high heat. Add onion, garlic, tomato and capsicum. Cook, stirring constantly until the liquid has disappeared and the mixture is thick. Reserve.

  8. 45 minutes before serving, pre-heat the oven to 200°C or turn on the barbecue. I've found a gas pizza oven also works well as long as you don't put the pan directly above the flame.

    In the paellera mix the sofrito with the rice, the salt and the saffron.


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    Add boiling water and bring to the boil on strong heat. Cook until the water has receded below the level of the rice:


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  9. Remove pan from the flame. Taste and add salt, if necessary. Make a first layer of chicken and chorizo, spreading the chicken radially:


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  10. Then cover sprinkle with the peas:


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  11. The traditional recipes now say “put into the oven, uncovered, or on the barbecue”. I have had difficulties with that, probably related to the rice (see Notes) so I cover it with aluminium foil. Bake for about 20 minutes.

  12. Add raw mussels, prawns and squid, cover again and cook for another 10 minutes.


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  13. When it is done, remove from oven or barbecue and cover loosely with a kitchen towel for 5 to 8 minutes. Add warmed-up cooked seafood if used:


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  14. Garnish with the lemon wedges and serve in its pan.

Notes

This is a complicated dish, of course, and I don't make it very often. The most recent time was on 7 April 2022, after a pause of 3½ years.

What kind of rice? Bomba! But that's almost unobtainable in Australia, and when it is, it costs up to $10 per kg. So I use Arborio instead. How does it compare? I don't know, since I've never used Bomba. But my guess is that Arborio doesn't absorb water as well, and that's the reason why I cover it while cooking.

Some of the quantities seemed wrong. In particular, 400 g of chorizo? We had 360 g on hand, and that already seemed to be too much:


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But no, 400 g is about right. Here's the same paella after spreading (all) the chorizo:


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I used to just fry the chicken thighs, but with the enormous thighs we get in Australia, we risk them not being cooked through:


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Which seafood for the final garnish? A matter of taste and what's available. Almost anything will do. See the photos for some ideas.

Sous-vide approach

One of the difficulties in cooking paella is to get everything cooked to the correct extent. I've found that preparing some of the components sous-vide helps. Cook the prawns and squid for 15 minutes at 52°, and the chicken thighs for 3 hours at 65° (warning: I haven't actually tried the chicken like this).


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