'The Best Paella In The World!'


The hubby and I travelled to Europe a few years ago now, and I have to admit that Spain was a bit of an afterthought (shame on us right?!). We only decided to stop in Barcelona because it was on the way from London to Rome, and I now think it was one of the best places we went our entire trip.

I have this habit of talking to taxi drivers when arriving to a new country, I pretty much harass them until the give up the goods on the best places to go for the locals and our chauffer in Barcelona did not disappoint! He recommended a seafood restaurant called Restaurante Cheriff in Barceloneta that claimed to have ‘The Best Paella In The World’.

Now I didn’t have much to compare it to, but seriously… Foodgasm. I still haven’t been able to replicate it, with a seafood sauciness that is so rich and delightful its actually meaty tasting and fresh seafood that was crawling in the tanks on the wall literally 5 minutes ago, but I've found and tweaked my own version which is pretty darn delicious!

I love the MoVida Recipe, it’s a bit tricky to make because you need rabbit, which you then have to confit. But I replace the rabbit with chicken (boring I know), its more accessible, a fair bit cheaper and easier to cook. I also do my own spin on a Sofritto, which takes a bit less time and energy to make.

You will need…
1kg chicken thighs, skinned, trimmed, diced into 2cm cubes
500gr mussels (the recipe calls for 200gr but I love mussels)
12 raw king prawns
pinch saffron threads
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 cloves garlic, crushed
400gr Calasparra Rice
200gr Sofritto (recipe below)*
125ml dry white wine
1.25Lt hot fish stock
500gr vongole or baby clams
200gr firm-fleshed fish (I use swordfish), cut into 2.5cm (1in) cubes
100gr squid/cuttlefish cut into 5mm strips
160gr peas or chopped green beans
2 tbs chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 lemons, halved

Method…
1. Saute your sofritto in your paella pan with your garlic, thyme and rosemary until it begins to caramelise and brown. Season with salt and cracked black pepper, turn the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Add your rice, and mix well with the sofritto to coat. Cook for 2 minutes. Add your white wine and cook out the liquid.
3. Meanwhile, add your saffron to your hot fish stock and soak for 5 minutes. Then pour your stock over your rice and add your chicken pieces. Give it a stir with your wooden spoon, make sure the heat is on the lowest possible setting and cover with a lid.
4. After 6 minutes, return to your pot, give the rice a stir (final stir) and some of the liquid should already be absorbed. Carefully place your prawns, fish and squid/cuttlefish on top of the rice and cover with the lid again.
5. After a further 8 minutes, using a pair of tongs, turn your prawns to cook on the opposite side. Add your peas/beans, mussels and vongole and replace the lid again.
6. Give it 6 more minutes, check that all your liquid is absorbed and that your mussels and vongole have opened-discard any that don’t open (if they have opened and your rice still seems soupy, remove them and leave to cook for a few more minutes).
7. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and place lemon halves around the pot, and serve as is. Divide the paella between you and 3-5 of your closest friends or family- just make sure everyone gets the same amount of prawns otherwise there’ll be fights!



Sofritto

You will need…
1 carrot, peeled
1 small brown onion, peeled, root removed
2 celery sticks, washed
30ml olive oil
½ red capsicum  } omit this for Italian ragu recipes
3 large, ripe tomatoes }  omit this for Italian ragu recipes
Method…

1. Remove the skin from your tomatoes by cutting a small X in the bottom then blanch and refresh, use a small knife to peel off skin.
2.  Cut the tomatoes into quarters and remove the seeds.
3.  Deseed and wash the capsicum, roughly chop along with the onion, celery and carrot.
4. Place all ingredients except for the oil in a food processor and process on high gradually adding the oil until all vegetables have become a pulp, scrape down the edges and blitz again until smooth.
5.  Store in an airtight container until use.

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