This challenge was given to me by my Mother. She knows how much I love to cook, but often, just cook dishes which they don't get excited over most of the time and to be honest, I actually end up throwing a lot out as it doesn't get eaten unfortunately.
So with this challenge I really wanted to impress Mum so that she would really enjoy the meal. I researched a lot about the different ways of making Paella, the pan, seafood and how one of the best bits is the crispy layer at the bottom of the pan.
However, I started off on the wrong food before I began cooking. It was a Friday night and I ended up finishing work an hour after I would normally. This meant that by the time I got to Hurstville, the fish store had closed which absolutely shattered me. I was therefore reduced to buying frozen prawns, and whatever other seafood I could find at the supermarket.
Once I go home I took all my ingredients and prepared them so they were all ready to go in at once. I crushed the many cloves of garlic, chopped the onion, sliced the peppers and uncorked the wine.
Originally I thought that 5 cloves was too much so I reduced how much I actually put in to about 4, but I think for the amount of rice and after simmering for so long, I think that it would have been fine....should have used my instincts, but I think I was still disappointed about the seafood.
One thing whilst I was cooking however, did boost my excitement, using a new ingredient. Saffron. I used the whole little box I bought, which probably weighed 0.5g and still cost around $6. It is such a fascinating product and the most expensive ingredient in the world. This is due to the way it needs to be hand picked and dried immediately withing the 35 days that the flower flourishes in Autumn. Although expensive, the smallest amount will give dishes a nice edge to them and a beautiful yellow colour. It is a staple ingredient in Paella and if I did not find it, would not even consider my dish of rice and other pieces a Paella.
Well the majority of things had gone in, it was time to let it simmer and not touch it so it could achieve that crusty layer at the bottom called soccarat. This is the prized part of the dish that everyone fights over. Once the rice soaked up a lot of the liquid it was time to put in the seafood, which I was still not happy about, but I suppose since I also have chicken and chorizo, it didn't need too much seafood to make it a hearty and meat filled dish.
It smelt wonderful though, the spices, garlic and seafood smells went all through my ridiculously small kitchen and before I knew it, it was done. Time to eat.
For my first try, after work on a Friday night, with access to only a handful of ingredients and without the proper pan or cooking it on a grill of my bbq or over coals, it was not too bad. It didn't have the same flavours as other Paellas I have eaten before, I think a little chilli would have improved it, but my Dad does not touch chilli, so that was not an option.
The verdict from my Mum? It was nice, the chicken was really tender and she thought it was better than the small Spanish place she went to for Valentine's in which she received ONE prawn, ONE mussel and ONE piece of chorizo. I think the thing she likes most about it was that she didn't have to cook for the night and could just relax and steal a glass of wine from my bottle while she relaxed after a week of work.
Even id the dish wasn't as I would have liked, my Mum's reaction and contentness, made it a success for me.
5 cloves garlic crushed
1 large spanish onion chopped finely
500g chicken thigh
2 peppers sliced thinly
3/4 cup white wine
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 cup arbrio rice
2 pinches saffron
500g prawns with shells on
1 cup scallops
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
1. Sautee the garlic and onions for a few minutes until the onions become transluscent.
2. Add the chicken and chorizo and cook until lightly browned.
3. Add the peppers, wine, tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to the boil.
4. Once boiled, add the rice and saffron and simmer with a lid over the pan and leave for 15 minutes. (Do not stir as you want to achieve the crust)
5. Add the prawns and scallops and cook for a few minutes until just under cooked then add the peas and cook for a few more minutes.
6. To serve, spoon into a bowl, then top with some of the rice scraped off the bottom of the pan.