When I was a kid, Mum would spend hours cooking up a paella, for a lavish feast on a Saturday night. She’d put lots of seafood in it – mussels and prawns and maybe sometimes even fish. And there’d be chorizo sausage, from the specialty butcher across the border, and tiny chicken drumsticks. We’d squeeze lemons over it, and take pride that we were eating such a culturally diverse meal.
I am so grateful that my parents are foodies – I cooked this paella from childhood memory on Sunday afternoon. It was just like cooking an elaborate risotto.
I started by chopping heaps of vegies – garlic, onion, capsicum, tomato, asparagus, zucchini and preserved lemon.
Then I cut two chicken drumsticks with kitchen shears, and fried them in a small pan.
I added three sliced chorizo sausages to the pan and cooked these on low heat for about 30 minutes. I added a bit of preserved lemon in the pan. They went brown and smokey – so delicious.
While the meat was cooking, I softened the onion and garlic in a big pan under a lid.
I boiled some water and made a stock in my giant beer glass – probably should have made the stock from scratch, because I believe this stock contains a nasty in the form of MSG – but instead I used about a tablespoon of vegeta powder, and half a tablespoon each of smoked paprika, tumeric and mixed herbs.
I then added about 1.5 cups of aborio rice to the onions and garlic, and the rest of the vegies.
I poured all of the stock over the rice – I never stir risotto labouriously, and I transferred this rule to paella – and added the cooked chicken and chorizo.
Once the paella had cooked on low heat for about 15 minutes, some of the stock was absorbed by the rice, and I added about half a bag of frozen peas.
I also added fresh but defrosted prawns that I’d bought earlier last week at the markets and had frozen.
I stirred the peas and prawns through and left it to cook on low heat for another 30 minutes or so. The smell was amazing.
It took a while to prepare, but while it was on the stove I could do other things like wash dishes and clean before the cleaner came on Monday.
And it turned out pretty damn great for my first go. Smokey and lemony and so colourful. I loved it and will be making it again – maybe with more seafood.
How beautiful does it look?!