Few dishes sing 'Party!' quite as loudly as paella: the hearty, harmonious rice/vegetable/seafood and/or meat combination that originated in Valencia over 12 centuries ago.
There is heated debate regarding the 'authenticity' of any given paella recipe, but there are three basic rules: firstly, use a large, wide, heavy based pan (preferably a dedicated paella pan, readily available in most kitchen shops). Secondly, the rice must be paella rice, preferably Spanish (again, easy to source). And chorizo is never, ever included in a proper Spanish paella... except many home cooks love the smoky, oily depth-charge flavour it brings to the fiesta.
You, of course, don't have to break the chorizo rule. You don't have to use cooked chicken either, but this a great way to use up leftovers and simplify the cooking process. You can also leave the prawns out and double-up on the chicken, which can easily be substituted for pork.
Are you getting the general vibe here? Paella is one of the easiest-going, most cheerful ways to feed a crowd and also makes a great rustled-up romantic supper-a-deux, yielding big results in terms of both flavour and picturesque impact for very little effort. Olé!
Ingredients (to serve 4)
140g cooking chorizo, roughly chopped (optional)
2 large onions, roughly chopped
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 green or red pepper, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 level tbsp smoked paprika
300g paella rice
900ml hot chicken stock
300g cold roast chicken, shredded or roughly chopped
200g frozen peas
225g raw king prawns (fresh or frozen)
Lemon wedges/spritz of lemon juice (optional), flaky sea salt, a generous drizzle of olive oil and a handful of fresh rosemary sprigs, to serve
If you're using chorizo, heat around 2 tbsp olive oil in a paella pan (or the biggest frying pan you've got) and sauté until the smoky oils are released and the chorizo is starting to caramelise. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. If not, start the recipe from the next step.
Sauté the onions and pepper for around 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute before introducing the chorizo back to the pan, along with the tomatoes and the smoked paprika. Stir and sauté for around one minute.
Add the rice, stirring well to mix everything in the pan together. Add the saffron-infused chicken stock, bring to the boil and simmer on a gentle heat for around 20 minutes until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid.
Stir the chicken, prawns and frozen peas into the rice, chorizo and vegetable mixture and cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the chicken has reheated all the way through, the prawns have turned pink and a soft crust has formed around the edges of the pan.
Serve in warmed bowls.