A classic traditional Spanish dish, paella is originally from
Valencia, a city on the East coast of the country. The original version
called paella valenciana involves the use of
flat green beans, meat (mainly chicken and rabbit), white beans and
snails, but there are many variations that include only fish,
crustaceans and molluscs (paella marinera) or meat and fish together (paella mixta).
The wide, shallow pan used to prepare this recipe is the paella, also called paellera. Spaniards are quite divided about the right name for this beautiful cooking instrument: some prefer paella and some others argue that the correct name is paellera. The Real Academia Española, the official institution that takes care of setting the rules for the Spanish language, accepts both. For clarity in the recipe we use the term paella for the dish and paellera for the pan.
When looking for one to buy, select it possibly with a thick enough bottom to promote uniform cooking of the rice without burning it. This has to happen in such an way that the rice is no longer stirred after a first, initial stir so as to form that delicious crust on the bottom of the pan that, together with the perfect cooking of all the ingredients, characterizes a really well done paella.
This version by Oliver, a friend from the Spanish Canary Islands, is a paella mixta, with meat and fish together. The chorizo used here is the classic Spanish pork sausage characterized by a uniform red colour even in the fat parts since the meat and fat mixture has been flavoured and “coloured” with pimentón, red smoked pepper powder, or more or less spicy paprika.
The use of fish, crustaceans and molluscs makes the preparation a little more delicate than a paella with just meat as it is necessary to avoid overcooking the prawns that would otherwise become unpleasantly flaky. Add them when the rice is almost cooked calculating about three more minutes on the stove. Also for cod and squid it is preferable to avoid too long a cooking time (4 to 5 minutes maximum). Oliver cooks the mussels long enough to ensure that the rice absorbs their juices and flavour even better.
The video has Italian subtitles only but you’ll get what we mean by looking at the images and following the written recipe you find here.
250 g rice for paella or risotto
20 raw mussels in their shells
250 gr. fresh clean prawns (without head, shell and intestines)
3-4 large cleaned squid
150 gr. cod fillet
100 gr. bacon or pancetta
100 gr. chorizo (Spanish sausage)
150 gr. fresh shelled peas
4 medium tomatoes
2 red peppers
1 green pepper
2 red onions
4-5 cloves of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
2 pinches of saffron stigmas or powder
1 pinch of Cayenne pepper
2,5 dl. dry white wine
2,5 l. chicken stock
two lemons and flat-leaf parsley for garnishing
Heat plenty of oil in the paellera and fry the chopped onions in it.
Add the diced peppers and the finely chopped garlic and fry for a few
Add the chorizo, the bacon or pancetta and the blanched, peeled and diced tomatoes together with the Cayenne pepper. Stir and cook for about 5-10 minutes on a medium heat.
Add the rice, raise the heat a little and stir well.
Pour the white wine, stir and allow the alcohol to evaporate.
Season with saffron, stirring well to give the rice a beautiful, uniform yellow colour.
Place the mussels on top of the rice and stir gently.
Add the peas and, immediately after, 4-5 ladles of hot stock which will have to cover the rice completely.
Cook the rice on a medium / high flame until almost cooked, adding stock from time to time if it gets too dry.
Add the squid cut into rings and the fish fillet into large pieces and push them gently into the rice without moving it too much. Add more stock if necessary.
Add the prawns to the paella about three minutes before the rice is ready. Lay them on the rice and turn them so that they evenly cook on both sides. If you don’t want to risk overcooking you can also briefly sauté them in a pan with a little olive oil and then add them to the paella once you take it from the fire. Season with a little salt if necessary.
Turn off the heat and let the paella rest for 5 minutes.
Serve garnished with chopped parsley and lemon slices.