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Paella la Familia

Letting the side down - no decoration
of peppers
Mr Gingerbreadman is Spanish, as you can imagine paella features high up on his list of favourite food. Junior Gingerbread isn't keen on seafood and Princess Gingerbread loves it. The answer for us is a chicken and chorizo paella which pleases everyone with a side dish of prawns or calamari.

I've learned that paella is a bit like a British roast dinner - the main concept is the same but everyone's Mum makes it slightly differently and that's what that Spaniard recognises as the ultimate version. My mother in law taught me how to make this, in turn I've customised it for us. So hers is the best according to Mr Gingerbreadman, my kids love ours.

It's worth noting that the sauce takes the longest to do - it needs to be packed with flavour to make the dish amazing rather than average. My 'cheat' is to make a double batch and freeze one. 'Made ahead' sauce works great as a 'we've got guests and nothing sorted meal' as you can cook it whilst they socialise or Sunday lunch.

You don't need a paella pan  - a large shallow pan will do the job. Serves 4 (2 adults, 2 kids), with salad.

Bell peppers x3
Tin of chopped tomatoes or fresh tomatoes (skin removed by blanching and chopped)
2 onions
Garlic 2 cloves
Chicken - allow a breast per person or two thighs
Chorizo - handful, cubed
Stock - chose one that matches the protein element - fish, chicken, or vegetable all work nicely. Chef's note - either follow the instructions on your rice or work on 1 cup of rice to 3 cups of stock
250g Paella or short grain rice - if 4 adults increase, work on 75g to 100g per person depending on appetites and second helpings
Paella seasoning mix or saffron, paprika - I use smoked paprika or hot paprika if you want to really pep the flavour up - it's all down to your own taste

1. Cut the bell peppers into quarters, turn in a little olive oil and roast off on a tray in the over until the skins lift. Leave to cool and then peel the skins off and discard. My mother in law does this in the pan and removed the skin whilst they are hot - impressive heat handling skills!
2. Chop the onions and fry them off gently until they are soft, if using fresh garlic add this in at the end to cook through quickly
3. If using fresh tomatoes blanches these remove the skins and chop - or open the tin! IF using fresh tomatoes feel free to fry them in the pan to produce a puree
4. Pop the peppers, onion and tomato into a blender and whizz up to make a course sauce - don't over do it  - you want a bit of texture not soup

1. Cube the chicken breasts, or flatten out the thighs and fry them gently in the paella pan - getting all that flavour into the pan. This is different to a seafood paella where that is precooked and goes in towards the end
2. Once cooked put the meat to one side
3. Put a glug of oil in the pan and add the rice. Toast the rice in the pan a little to warm through and coat in the meat juices. Set the rice to one side
4. Add the stock to match the amount of rice you are using to the pan - either follow the instructions on your rice or work on a 1 cup or rice to 3 cups of stock
5. Stir in the vegetable sauce
6. Add the seasoning - I bring  'el Aeroplano' back from Spain for the colour, however, a generous pinch of saffron to gives the famous yellow colour, with a teaspoon of paprika, salt and pepper or even a supermarket seasoning kit. Adjust the smokey taste and spicy heat to match your palette as you go
7. Sprinkle the rice evenly across the liquid in the pan
8. Cook it on a medium to low heat - slow and steady! Its takes 45 minutes to an hour. Once the rice has started to absorb the stock, add the chicken and chorizo. The paprika and chorizo will make it a deeper colour
9. DO NOT STIR the paella if you can help it - you want to avoid making the rice gloopy. Sort of redistribute the rice if you see a patch of sauce with out any
10. If the rice is still crunchy and it's looking a little dry top up with a glug of hot water as required - resting it for a few minutes before serving helps the rice absorb the sauce - less is more if you do this
11. Serve with a salad and if really going for Spanish style sliced fresh crusty bread. Squeeze some lemon juice generously over the paella

The crunchy bit from the bottom of the pan is considered the best bit!
Fail at making a tidy plate for a picture - too hungry!

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