I have the good fortune to work right near Borough Market in London. I love to nip up to the market when it first opens and before the large crowds of tourists invade as well. My two favorite places to go are to the Mexican stall of Cool Chile and to Brindisa. The restaurant bit of Brindisa was even featured on Barefoot Contessa when she filmed in London. But I digress. I mention it because it has some of the best chorizo around. I also love their smoky paprika, and when the season is right, I buy their padron peppers as well. I had a fair amount of chorizo in the fridge, and I had a craving for paella.
Now I have been to Spain on many occasions and have had many different types of paella from squid ink to the pasta variety, but I wanted something I could create at home that didn’t take all day. My version is a relatively quick recipe that means you can even make it when you get in from work.
A note about the colour of the paella. Mine was a nice golden colour from the chorizo, as the saffron added very little colour to the dish and I will not use food colouring in mine as I have seen others do to change it to that odd dayglo yellow you often see in restaurants. Tumeric is also a common ingredient as it also adds a yellow tinge to the dish, but I leave it out.
While I have a paella pan that someone brought back from me from Spain, I prefer my cast iron shallow casserole dish (measures 30cm). You can also use a large frying pan if you prefer. With the liquid, the stock you use is up to you. I use chicken, but you can sub in fish or vegetable. With the wine, I typically don’t have an open bottle of wine, but I always have dry white vermouth for cooking so I use that, or if you prefer, just use water in place of the alcohol. The meat and seafood you use is totally up to you as well. I always have the remains of a roast chicken in the house, so I typically throw that in, but you can use whole chicken pieces if you prefer, just add them with the chorizo if you do. I typically take the shells off the prawns and devein them as I prefer not to have to handle my paella when I am eating, but the shells do add more flavour.
Paella is best served a bit dry, not creamy like risotto. The key to this is not to stir it and that the rice should have a bit of crispiness to it when you are done. I add stock as the rice absorbs the liquid, until it is the right consistency that I like, again this is personal choice, so if you like yours a bit wetter, knock yourself out. Food is all about personal taste and cannot be dictated. At the end season to taste and if you want a bit more smoky flavour, add a bit more paprika in. I typically serve my paella with extra vegetables or salad and a nice glass of dry white wine, which of course you have open because you just used it in the recipe.