4 March 2013

Daring Cooks - Paella

Our Daring Cooks’ September 2012 hostess was Inma of la Galletika. Inma brought us a taste of Spain and challenged us to make our very own delicious Paella!

When you have real Spaniards around, it takes some guts to make a Spanish dish like paella, because you expose yourself to being compared to the real thing, la paella casera, and most of the time, you don't come out a winner of this battle.

Nevertheless when I saw this challenge in the recipe archive, I felt compelled to give it at least a try.  Even though I already knew I will never be able to equal late Julia's cuisine, I could at least try to recapture the essence of the scrumptious dishes she used to make.

So paella it is.

Although I have Julia's recipe, I decided to stick to the one on the Challenge Sheet, probably to make the comparison slightly more difficult for the people who were going to share this paella with me. :o)

Because the proposed recipe yielded 10 servings, I decided to halve all the ingredients.  I also reduced the suggested amount of rice.  Inma proposed 1 cup a rice per person, but I used 2 cups of (dry) rice (i.e. 375g) for 5 servings and that was more than enough.

The only problem I encountered was that my pan proved slightly too small for the necessary amount of water to cook the rice.  Because of that, the rice ended up being slightly undercooked and I had to transfer the whole contents to another pan.  I added an approximate amount of water to the dish for further cooking and then the rice ended up overcooked :o(

So, the paella was not perfect but the native and non-native eaters at the table, did approve of the taste even though the texture left somewhat to be desired. :o)  Better next time (because there will definitely be a next time).

Ingredients (for 5 servings)

* 500g jumbo shrimp cleaned & deveined
* 500g fresh clams
* 250g pork loin, diced
* 250g chicken breast, diced
* 375g (2 cups) Spanish shortgrain rice
* 5-6 Saffron threads
* 4 garlic cloves
* 400g crushed tomatoes
* 200g fresh green beans
* 1 red bell pepper (capsicum) cut into strips
* 150g peas
* olive oil
* Salt to taste
* 3 springs of parsley
* Water or chicken broth to boil rice in – ratio is 1 cup of rice = 3 cups of liquid
* 1/2 can of pimientos de piquillo (peeled and sliced)
* a bunch of parsley

Preliminary notes :
You can let the rice from the bottom of the paellara burn a little bit, this part is called “Rosejat” and it is very appreciated by some people.
You have to move the paella constantly but only before you add the rice, after that point you just move and turn the paellera in order to get the heat to the entire pan. It is much better if you have a heat spreader.


Maybe this is the most important of all the steps, you have to wash and chop all the vegetables and cut all the meat and remove the skin.

In the paellera heat the olive oil, add two garlic cloves diced and remove.

Add shrimp, sauté and when it turns pink remove it and set apart.

Fry the chicken and the pork

In another saucepan boil the clams in salted water. Bring water to just over the clams. Once clams have cooked, remove from water and discard any clams that did not open. Strain the clam broth and set aside.

Add pepper to the chicken and pork, sauté. Add salt to taste

Add crushed tomato

Add broth (or water) to cover the chicken and pork, boil for 30 minutes.

Add the strained clam broth. Add the fresh green beans too.

At the same time you have to make: “la picada”. In a mortar or a home coffee grinder crush 2 garlic cloves, parsley and saffron. Add a little bit of paella ́s broth. Pour it into the Paella.

Spread the rice through all the paellera.

Add water (per cup of rice add 2 cups of water)

Add peas

The paella must continue boiling until the rice is dry. Add some lemon drops. Add the shrimp.

Dared to cook Paella. Challenge completed !


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