With Australia Day coming up there is a perfect opportunity to have a crew of friends around and instead of the BBQ cook up a paella that celebrates Australian seafood. Kelly Eastwoods' SOUTH COAST PAELLA
This dish is inspired by my recent visit to see Leno Latturunlo of ‘Simply Spanish’ in Melbourne, who recently won the International Paella Championships in Spain. He was up against 35 other teams from all over the world to cook the best version of the original paella using rabbit, green and white beans and snails and came home as a winner! There are a few golden rules for a perfect paella – don’t be tempted to stir it, use a good stock and use the correct rice. Depending on where you live it might be tricky trying to source calasparra or bomba rice – so use another short grain rice such as sushi rice. And of course, the best thing of all is the way a paella celebrates our local produce.
Ingredients: 900mls chicken stock Pinch saffron Olive oil 6 free range chicken thighs, diced 1 chorizo sausage, or a good local spicy sausage, sliced 1 red capsicum, diced 1 yellow capsicum, diced 1 red onion, finely diced 4 garlic cloves, finely diced 1 tsp. fennel seeds 225g calasparra or bomba rice (or sushi rice if you can’t find it) 500g Australian prawns, whole 1 local squid, sliced into thin tubes 1 kg Eden mussels, debearded 1 tsp. smoked paprika
To garnish ½ bunch parsley, finely chopped 1 lemon, sliced into wedges
Method In a medium sized pot, heat the chicken stock and add the saffron threads. Keep it on a low simmer, covered until needed.
Add a good splash of olive oil in a 30 – 40cm paella pan, or frying pan and when hot, add the chicken. Sauté until browned all over but not cooked through.
Lower the heat and add the chorizo or spicy sausage, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the capsicum and red onion and gently fry for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture should be slightly caramelised and sweet. Try not to rush this step as it will give you a much deeper flavour.
Add the garlic and fennel seeds, and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add all of the rice and stir to combine the flavours and coat the rice. Add the warmed stock and let the rice gently simmer away. Season with salt and pepper. Don’t be tempted to stir the rice, it needs to sit and absorb the flavours.
Paella rice should take approximately 20 minutes to cook through, so after approximately 15 minutes, taste the rice. It should be close to cooked, but still have a bite to it. Place the mussels, prawns and squid into the paella and continue to cook for a further 5 minutes. Again, don’t be tempted to stir it!
When the rice and seafood is cooked through, sprinkle the smokey paprika over the dish. Cover loosely with foil and let the dish rest for 5 minutes.
When ready to serve, garnish with chopped parsley and lemon wedges. Goes well with a simple salad, crunchy baguette and a chilled glass of sangria!
*** And the perfect company for Paella is Nelleke Gorton's CANNELLINI AND FENNEL FOCACCIA!
300ml tepid water 1 Tbsp. yeast 1 Tbsp. honey
500g Bakers Flour (3¼ cups) – I use Wallaby flour 2 tsp. salt
1 tin cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 1 Tbsp. fennel seeds
2 garlic cloves Small bunch of rosemary Extra olive oil
Mix the yeast and honey in 300ml tepid water. Place the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add half the yeast mixture. Use a fork to combine then add remainder half of mixture. Combine to a smooth dough, adding extra water if too dry.
Roughly crush the beans in a pestle and mortar and mix into the dough along with the fennel seeds. Knead for 5 minutes on a floured surface until satiny. Pop into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 40 minutes.
Smash garlic and rosemary leaves with the coarse salt and then add a good lug of olive oil.
Knock back dough and press into a large baking sheet (with sides). Take fingers of both hands and press pockets into the dough. Drizzle over the garlic/rosemary mixture and let stand ½ hour before baking in a 200˚C oven. Bake till well risen and golden.