Seafood paella

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Paella is a great dinner party meal and if you are going to cook it often, then it’s worth investing in a proper paella pan, good-quality paprika (look for brightly coloured tins of paprika, not the generic herb jars) and a nice bottle of Spanish sherry. This recipe serves six but the quantity can easily be changed to suit the number of guests and is only constrained by the size of your pan.

You can also use this recipe as a base for a Vegetarian paella, substituting the chicken and prawns with eggplant, doubling the capsicum, replacing the chicken stock with vegetable stock, and perching artichoke halves in the rice instead of mussels.

Ingredients

  • 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) mussels
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chilli powder
  • a generous pinch of saffron threads
  • 100 ml ( fl oz) olive oil
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) pieces
  • 12 raw prawns (shrimp), peeled and deveined, tails left intact
  • 3 green chillies, seeded and chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 1 red capsicum (pepper), diced
  • 350 g (12 oz) calasparra rice
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) fino sherry
  • 1.5 litres (52 fl oz/6 cups) chicken stock
  • 1 handful coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 2 lemons, cut into wedges

Method

Clean the mussels under cold running water, scrubbing them to remove any barnacles or bits of hairy beard. Discard any broken mussels or open ones that don’t close when tapped on the kitchen bench. Rinse well.

Put the smoked and sweet paprikas and chilli powder in a small bowl and stir to combine. Put the saffron threads in a separate small bowl and cover with 2-3 tablespoons of boiling water.

Heat half of the olive oil in a large paella pan or large, deep frying pan over high heat and add half the paprika and chilli mixture. Stir the spices into the oil, then add the chicken and cook for 4 minutes. Add the prawns and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, or until coloured and beginning to curl. Remove the chicken and prawns to a bowl.

Heat the remaining oil in the pan over medium heat and add the remaining paprika mixture, the green chilli, garlic and onion and cook for 2 minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the capsicum and stir for 1 minute before adding the rice. Stir for 2 minutes to coat the rice in the spices, then add the sherry and the saffron water and threads. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed, then add the stock.

Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the rice for 10-15 minutes, or until the stock is mostly absorbed. Return the chicken and prawns to the pan and add the mussels.

Cover the pan with foil or a fitted lid and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until all the mussels have opened. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with coriander leaves. Serve with the lemon wedges.

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