Some people will try to convince you that this is not an authentic recipe, due to its use of Chorizo, but Paella varies so widely across the regions of Spain that I don’t think the concept of authenticity even exists in that sense.
Some balk at the thought of Black Pudding, but the beauty of Paella is that you can (and should) substitute any ingredients in or out as you please.
This may look like quite a strict and rigid list of steps, but it’s really not. Every time I make this, it’s different… largely because I do things differently without paying a great deal of attention. That’s the beauty of Paella. It’s supposed to be wild, an adventure of flavour and colour, taste and texture!
So what are you waiting for? Jump in!
2 large chicken breasts
1 onion, chopped
a pinch of saffron
1tsp garlic puree
a good glug of dry sherry
150g paella rice
a splash of olive oil
350ml chicken stock
1 small black pudding (about 200g)
1 pepper, sliced
I served this as a main meal for two, but on hungry days (or to feed more) I’ve been known to double the rice & stock. The recipe as it stands is probably enough, but I’m greedy!
You can use a Paella dish if you have one, but I just use a large frying pan.
1. I like to be prepared for this. Remove the Chorizo from it’s casing/skin. If this doesn’t make you laugh like a school kid then you have no soul and shouldn’t be in the kitchen. Cut the Chorizo into chunky slices. It’s important that you eat a piece. If you’re using an actual black pudding chubb, divide it into 12 equal slices. Slice the chicken, too.
2. Place the saffron on some foil, and fold it into a flat little packet. Dry fry it for a few minutes, turning occasionally.
3. Remove the Saffron packet, and dry fry the chorizo until the oil runs from it, and it crisps up a bit.
4. Remove the Chorizo, leaving the oil in the pan. You are morally and legally obliged to eat another piece.
5. Fry the chicken in the chorizo oil, turning occasionally, just enough to brown it. You don’t need to cook it right through at this point. Remove the chicken, too.
6. Fry the onions and garlic, crumbling the saffron over the top and stirring it all in.
5. After a few minutes, once the onions have softened, add the sherry. Be careful, as there may be steam! You should really see the sherry bring out the vivid orange/yellow of the saffron, and some colouring from the last of the chorizo oil. Let it bubble away, and reduce by about half.
7. Stir the rice through until it’s all coated in the oils.
9. Add the chorizo and chicken. I normally start out doing this geometrically a bit like a clock face, but run out of spaces and it all goes a bit higgledy piggledy. In any case, remember to leave a small gap in the very middle. I usually pour any remaining oil from the chorizo dish on top as well.
10. Bring the pan to a gentle simmer, and cover for 10 minutes. If you don’t have a lid big enough to cover your paella dish or frying pan, just use some foil. Meanwhile, dry fry the black pudding, turning occasionally.
11. Remove the cover from the paella. If you’ve used a black pudding chubb, it is the law in 97 countries that you now eat one of the ends. The other end should be placed in the centre of the paella, with the the rest of the black pudding spread out evenly around the dish. Chuck the peppers in, too.
12. Leave the paella to do its thing. I find that it takes anywhere between 10-20 minutes – it may look finished on top, but can still be quite liquid underneath. I use a fork and peek at the sides now and then. When it’s close to ready, there should be some darker, crispy caramelised bits. Don’t worry about this – the Spanish consider it a delicacy (they even fight over it, and marriages have ended over one partner taking more than their fair share!) They love it so much they’ve even given it a name: socarrat. As long as it’s not completely black and welded to the pan, it should taste sweet rather than bitter. This is the best indicator that it’s ready to serve!
13. If you’ve used a paella dish, it can be nice to bring that to the table and let your guests help themselves. Otherwise, plate it up! Don’t forget to steal a bit of somebody else’s chorizo before you serve.
The price differences were so close in this recipe that I didn’t bother to break them down, I’ve just gone with the full pack sizes. Now, this assumes that you’re buying everything from scratch, so please don’t think this is an expensive recipe! Even if you do have to buy it all from scratch, the rice, stock, sherry, garlic puree, olive oil and saffron will last you for many more paellas! You’ll also have left-over chicken, chorizo & peppers.
The clear winners today were Tesco, coming in at £22.24. Asda followed at £22.55, then Morrisons at £23.68 and Sainsbury’s at £24.38.
It just so happens that, so far, the Tesco Finest* Chorizo Ring has been my favourite, and also the joint-cheapest at only £2.00.
This could go on forever, as there are so many different variations. The important bit is that the “rice” part works no matter what else you do. You will have to use olive oil though, if you don’t have the oil from chorizo.
Although I used chicken breast today, I actually prefer this recipe with Thighs instead – they’re more flavoursome, and the completed dish looks more “rustic”.
I’ve also tried Sainsbury’s diced chorizo in the past. It brings a lovely smoky, earthy, sweet taste that permeates throughout the whole paella but I missed the chunky slices! Half & half could be a viable option!
I used an orange pepper for sweetness this time, but I do like a green one, just to add some more/different colour. It’s also debatable which point you should add the peppers. I like them crisp so add them with the black pudding, while others prefer them softer so add them with the chicken and chorizo.
Finally, I’ve one friend who insists that I should try this with cubed black pudding. He thinks that this would make more of the black pudding crispy, and given that I’ve already said how important varied texture is in paella, there’s definitely merit in his idea.
I’ve read a few different versions of this recipe online, but feel I’ve varied it so much that it’s OK to call it my own, now.
I learned a little bit about Paella and how to make a decent base from Penelope Casas’ book Paella!