I recently learned how to make a classic Spanish dish while I was in Madrid: Paella Valenciana which includes flavored rice with rabbit and chicken pieces. However, I am not much of a fan of rabbit meat, so I decided to incorporate the rice with seafood and a little meat instead, creating a dish known as Paella Mixta.
For my seafood, I have used whole king prawns, mussels, calamari and scallops, but you could use other types of seafood as well. The key to making a good paella is to flavor the rice well so it doesn’t taste too bland. Besides using the standard chopped tomatoes, pimentón (smoked paprika) and saffron, I have also incorporated roasted red capsicum and its juices in my recipe. Also, by turning the heat up high during the last few minutes allows a nice crust to form on the bottom of the paella pan, known as a socarrat. Everyone scrambles to eat this crunchy layer at the bottom of the dish- yum!
You’ll need a flat paella pan for this recipe and to get the best results, use a short grain rice such as bomba, which you can find in specialty stores. I used a smaller 11 inch paella pan for my recipe, but if you use the larger 18 inch pan, you’ll need to almost double the recipe.
Oddly enough, when I presented my Paella Valenciana dish to the chef at the Madrid Cordon Bleu School, he said that my “rice was overcooked.” Of course, he hardly tasted it and when I got home and ate my paella for dinner, I found the wonderful crunchy socarrat at the bottom of my dish. Little did he know …..
- 1 red capsicum, roasted and sliced in strips
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 Spanish chorizo, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp Pimentón Dulce or Sweet Paprika
- 3 tomatoes, skins removed, de-seeded and chopped
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 100 ml white wine
- pinch of saffron soaked in 1/4cup hot water
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups chicken stock or water
- 1 cup ‘Bomba’ rice or other short grain rice
- 4-6 King Prawns (or shrimp) whole, uncooked
- Calamari rings
- 6-8 scallops
- 6-8 mussels
- Chopped flat leaf parsley
- Lemon wedges
- Pre-heat the broiler oven to 200 C (400 F). Place the red capsicum on the top shelf of the oven and bake until the skin blackens (about 10-15 minutes). Alternatively, place the pepper directly over a gas burner and scorch until the skin blackens- careful not to over-burn the skin. After the skin blackens, place the red pepper in foil, cover with a bit of salt and olive oil and cook in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (180 C or 350 F). Let cool for several minutes. Remove the blackened skin, pulp and seeds and then slice the capsicum into thin strips. Retain the juices from the foil wrap.
- Slice the chorizo into thin rounds. Using the paella pan, heat the chorizo on the stovetop in a little oil until juices form; remove the chorizo from the pan. Using the same juices from the chorizo, heat the garlic and onion until they are translucent. Add the chorizo back to the pan along with the sweet paprika (Pimentón Dulce), chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, white wine and juices from the roasted red pepper. Soak the saffron pieces in 1/4 cup hot water for 5 minutes then add to the paella pan with the other ingredients. Stir for at least 15 minutes until all the flavors have infused, add salt as required.
- Add two cups of water or chicken stock to the mixture and bring to a soft boil. Add the rice, stir the mixture and then reduce the heat to a simmer. When the rice is about ¾ cooked (almost absorbed by the water), add the calamari rings and king prawns and press them lightly into the rice mixture. Cover with foil or a lid and let them cook for several minutes until the prawns turn pink. Now add the mussels and scallops, cover and heat until the mussel shells open. During the last several minutes of cooking, turn the heat up to medium high, allowing a thin crust to form on the bottom of the rice mixture.
- Remove the paella from the heat, add several lemon slices to the dish and sprinkle with finely diced parsley and a few splashes of olive oil.
- You can substitute chicken thigh pieces for the chorizo, if desired.