Basic paella

Basic paella

Happy sunny days everyone! As soon as the weather starts to get better, the days get longer and we start spending more time outdoors, I start to crave paella – particularly when spending time with friends. It’s so convenient! It takes a bit of time to prep but then it comes together fairly quickly and you can really feed a crowd in the same amount of time as it would take you to feed a couple of people!

Now, let me be clear: I have not grown up in Valencia and therefore to all purists out there this is technically not paella but for the rest of us regular humans – I think you’ll enjoy it! I live in the UK so I use ingredients I find at the store, but if you want to go the extra mile and buy the rice, saffron, paprika powder and all the other things from Spain – please be my guest! It still won’t be real paella unless you’re making it in Valencia.

 

Paella

 

With that being said, I this recipe is yummy! I tend to make it with meat most of the time because 1. who doesn’t love chorizo and 2. not everyone loves seafood! But if you’re interested in seeing different variations let me know and I’ll show you! The basics are the same but there are a few variations, particularly when cooking with seafood. Also, you can leave the meat out altogether (but why would you?!) and just add some more veggies, plus use veggie stock to keep it completely veggie. Super versatile!

So if you want to learn how to make a basic chorizo and chicken paella let me show you what you need and how to make it so that you can enjoy it all summer long! 

Paella
In case you weren’t sure about this – the crunchy bottom “burnt” bit of the paella is something that’s actually made on purpose and it’s called “socarrat”.

 

 

Ingredients:

Paella

  • 400g chicken
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 250g chorizo
  • 400g short grain rice
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce (or 1 tbsp tomato paste)
  • 130ml white wine
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 1.2L chicken stock (or stock cube)
  • 120g frozen peas
  • Bunch of parsley
  • (Optional) 1 lemon
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper to taste

 

How to make it:

  • First, prepare your liquids:
    • Break apart the strands of saffron with your fingers and put them in a small amount of boiling water (about 50ml)
    • If you’re using a stock cube, dissolve it in boiling water (1.2L) at this point. If using stock, go to the next step!

Paella Paella

  • Then, chop up all your main ingredients – your chicken, pepper, onion, garlic and chorizo
    Paella
  • In a large pan (or ideally a paella pan) drizzle some olive oil and turn on your stove on high heat. Once it’s hot, fry up your chicken just until it gets some nice color. Season it with salt and pepper.
    • The chicken doesn’t need to be fully cooked at this point, we just want to give it some color.

Paella

  • When your chicken looks nicely golden, take it off the heat and set it aside.
  • If you need to, add a bit more oil and put the onion and pepper on the pan to fry them up. Again, we want some color to develop. Season with salt and pepper.

Paella

  • Once your veggies are looking nicely colored, add your garlic and chorizo and fry for another couple of minutes, until the garlic becomes fragrant and your chorizo starts to release some of its oils.

Paella

  • At this point, add in your paprika and tomato sauce (or paste) and stir it all together until it looks even in color.

Paella Paella

  • Add in your rice and fry it up together with everything else for a minute or two until it all looks fairly uniform in color and your rice is starting to get a bit toasty.

Paella Paella

  • At this point, add your wine and stir it all together until it’s pretty much evaporated completely.

Paella Paella

  • Once you’ve cooked off your wine, add in your saffron and your stock, pop your chicken back in and mix everything well until it looks even.

Paella Paella

  • This is important: put enough heat on your pan so that it boils gently (don’t want a rolling boil here) and LEAVE IT. Do not touch this anymore.
  • While your rice cooks, it’s a good time to chop up your parsley as fine as you want, and cut your lemon into wedges (if using it).

Paella

  • After about 15-20 min your water should be mostly gone – now you can touch your rice! Give it a gentle stir and try it.
    • If it’s cooked – jump to the next step.
    • If it still has a little bite to it, add in some more water (ideally hot), mix it gently and back off again, until the water is almost gone. Then repeat.

Paella

  • If your rice is cooked, add in your peas and mix them all through one last time. Keep going on a low heat until all your water is gone.

Paella PaellaPaella

  • This is the other important part: once your rice is cooked and your water is gone, crank the heat up to high and listen to it.
    • Give it a couple of minutes or so – you should hear it sizzling. You want to lightly toast (not quite burn!) the bottom bit of your paella but here’s where it all can go wrong.
    • After a couple of minutes grab a spoon and gently lift some rice from the side of your pan. This should give you an idea of what’s going on at the bottom.
Paella
This is how I like to check how my socarrat is looking. Once I see that the sides of my rice are starting to get toasty I leave it for another 30 – 60 sec and then it’s done!
  • When you’re happy with your socarrat, turn off the heat and LET YOUR RICE REST. This is the last important thing here. It makes a huge difference!
    • It’s a good time to plop your lemon wedges on there and bring it to the table. Hopefully by the time you dig in it’s had enough time! 5-10 min should do the trick.

Paella

  • And that’s it – a delicious homemade paella for you and your family to enjoy!!

 

Top tips:

  • Sometimes it’s hard to tell just how much water you’ll need. It really depends on so many things! I like to start with 1.2L for the 400g of rice and just take it from there. I usually have some boiled water on the side so I can add some extra in and just keep cooking it. Just make sure to only stir when the water is pretty much gone!
  • This recipe is super easy to multiply – as a general rule, I calculate about 100g of rice per person, depending on sides and other foods. This paella makes enough for 4-6 people.
  • On this recipe I’ve used chicken breast as it’s what I had at home but actually, chicken thighs tend to work better. They are super flavourful and it’s nearly impossible to overcook them, particularly when making something in water! It’s definitely the better idea here.
  • If you want to skip the chicken altogether that’s also fine – just add more chorizo or veggies. Traditionally it’s made with rabbit so you’re also welcome to use that instead.
  • Remember when you cook anything to keep seasoning every layer of your dish! That’s how you get well-balanced dishes. It’s crucial and not any different in this situation.
  • If you don’t like wine, don’t worry – you can’t taste it here! It just adds a bit more depth of flavour and it’s another way to season your rice. If you’re worried about the alcohol, don’t be – it evaporates pretty much completely. If you really don’t want to use it though that’s also fine.

 

Paella

And that’s it! The most time-consuming part of making paella is the prep – particularly chopping up all the veggies and the meat. But apart from that it’s so easy and simple! And whether you’re making it for 2 or 8 people it pretty much takes the same amount of time which is also great when it comes to entertaining.

As I said before, it’s not technically a traditional real paella but for most people I think it does the trick! It’s yummy and flavourful and perfect to feed a crowd on a beautiful summer day! 

 

Paella

I really hope that you give it a try and love it and as always, thanks for tuning in and supporting me! I really appreciate it and love to hear from you – what do you think? What do you want to see next? 

Have a great start of the sunny season everyone and see you again soon!

Arroz con leche (rice pudding)

Arroz con leche (rice pudding)

As you probably know, I grew up in Spain and if there is one thing that everyone can agree on is that Spanish people know how to eat! We’ve got the best food, freshest ingredients and I mean, to me there’s nothing like it. Spanish cuisine isn’t super elaborate and I actually really like that – they just use super good-quality ingredients and let them shine through.

This is one of those irreplaceable nostalgic comfort-food recipes that doesn’t look pretty, it’s not fancy at all but it just can’t be beat. It’s sweet, it’s cinnamony, it’s creamy and delicious and you can have it either warm or cold but either way it always hits the spot. Even though rice pudding is made in lots of different cuisines, the recipes can vary significantly. This is how I’ve grown up eating it, its a family favorite and I hope you love it as much as I do.

 

Arroz con leche

 

 

Ingredients:

Arroz con leche

  • 1L of milk – ideally whole milk
  • 100g of rice – short-grain works best here, something like arborio, risotto or bomba rice
  • Orange peel (1/4 to 1/2 orange)
  • Lemon peel (1/2 – 1 lemon)
  • 1 or 2 cinnamon sticks
  • A vanilla pod – cut it in half lengthwise and use both the pod and the seeds inside (you can also use extract or vanilla bean paste)
  • 70g sugar or a small can of condensed milk (370g)

Arroz con leche

  • Optional: knob of butter (about 10g)
  • Powdered cinnamon for dusting

 

How to make it:

  • In a large pot, combine your milk, rice, citrus peels, cinnamon stick and vanilla

Arroz con lecheArroz con leche

  • Turn the stove on a very low heat and bring it up to a gentle bubble (do not boil!). Simmer it slowly for about 30-45 min, stirring every few minutes – if you don’t stir it frequently it’ll form a skin over the top really quickly

Arroz con leche

  • After this time your mixture should be starting to thicken up and look creamy but your rice probably won’t be cooked all the way through yet. It’ll still be a bit runny which is exactly what we want

Arroz con leche

  • At this point add the sugar and keep simmering it for another 5-10min, until your pudding is thick and creamy and your rice is fully cooked through

Arroz con lecheArroz con leche

  • Turn the heat off and carefully remove your citrus peels, cinnamon sticks and vanilla pod. Make sure to mix through while you’re doing this so that it doesn’t form a skin.
    • Optional: add your knob of butter once you’ve removed all your flavorings and mix through

Arroz con leche

Arroz con leche

  • Cover your pot and let it rest for about 10-15min, then serve or put it in the fridge to cool down (see below).

 

Top tips:

  • If you want to eat it warm you can serve it at this point, just sprinkle some cinnamon on top and enjoy! (I love it with tons of cinnamon)
  • If you prefer to eat it cold, transfer your warm mixture to an airtight container, sprinkle with cinnamon and make sure that no air is getting in there (again, trying to prevent a skin from forming!). Pop it in the fridge to cool down and let it sit there for a few hours, then serve!
  • If you want to make it even creamier and more decadent, try substituting the sugar for a small can of condensed milk and thank me later! This is how my grandma prefers her arroz con leche. Just keep in mind that you’re adding liquid so you may need to cook it down a bit longer than with just sugar.
  • If you want to make this the day before (I used to do that in medschool) just keep in mind that the rice will keep absorbing the liquid for a while after it’s off the heat. If you don’t like it too dry you can either reduce your cooking time a bit so it’s looser, or you can just add a bit of extra milk when you go eat it. Just mix it through really well and it should incorporate easily.

 

Arroz con leche

 

Let me tell you, there are few desserts that warm my heart as much as this one. This is probably where my love for cinnamon comes from actually – I just cannot get enough of it! When I was young my parents had to take it away from me because if not I’d eat it all and I wouldn’t leave any for the rest of the family. Just couldn’t get enough! Like I said, it’s super simple and doesn’t require lots of ingredients or effort so it’s really a great treat to have on hand.

Even if you’ve had rice pudding before I’m sure it won’t be quite like this one. When my mom and grandma made it at home I think they only put a tiny amount of lemon peel in there and as far as I remember there was no vanilla so this is not quite exactly like the one I used to have but in my opinion it’s even better! It may be a touch too sweet so if you try it and feel like it’s too much, just cut down on the amount of sugar a bit and it should do the trick.

I hope you give this recipe a try and love it as much as I do – it tastes like my childhood! Also let me know if you like simple traditional Spanish recipes like this one and if you’d like me to share more? I’d love to know what you like to see over here! Thanks for reading me and I hope to see you again soon!

 

Arroz con leche
If your bowl doesn’t end up looking like this then something’s gone wrong – I’d suggest you try again!!