A few weeks ago I was invited to meet Jose and Lisa Gomez owners of Perfect Paella … and all I can say of that night is that the Spanish truly love their Paella, they really know how to throw the best parties and boy can they dance! Just so you know Perfect Paella is selling the most amazing paella pans (and very affordable too) and even give cooking classes if you want to really learn from the Masters.
But for me the paella is one of those dishes that I think has become victim to its own success and modern day popularity – hence the reason why it has so many different interpretations or variation. Now my question today is – to chorizo or not to chorizo? A purist friend of mine said to me he heard that you traditionally don’t use chorizo in paella! This caught me completely off-guard – for one, I have always cooked my own paellas with chorizo and I honestly thought that it is the way to do it! I had to immediately ask one of my best friends Louis who lives near Valentia: would I be defiling an ancient and respected recipe by including chorizo in the paella or not?
Within 5 minutes of my email, Louis responded as follows: “Nella… NO chorizo if you want traditional paella…my mother-in-law would turn in her grave. The paella with chorizo is more for tourists in Spain and in the South of Spain (Andalucia) . If you throw anything in then it’s just a rice ensemble and not a paella.”
So there you have it folks – in Spain they don’t use chorizo in a real Paella … But now … I am not a purist or a traditionalist so I love chorizo and love adding it to paella. So my paella is probably a rice concoction of sort in Spanish terms but for me it’s a damn good paella. I also steered well away from the tradition by substituting the wine with some South African “Nagmaalwyn”. My paella is also on the blonder side (not yellow) – another note to self – I need to stock up on some fresh saffron. It was one of the most soulful paellas I have yet to taste – try it and let me know …
- 800g Chicken pieces – I take each piece and cleave it into two pieces
- 2 Chorizo sausages – sliced (+-250g)
- 2T Olive oil
- 2 Garlic cloves - grated
- 1t Black pepper
- 1t Salt
- 50ml Olive Oil
- 50 ml Nagmaalwyn (Sherry)
- Other Ingredients
- 2T Olive oil
- 3 Garlic cloves – sliced thinly
- 1 Red pepper – cut into blocks
- 1 Handful of fresh origanum (or replace with ½t dried origanum)
- 5 Sprigs of fresh thyme (I use the whole sprigs)
- 1t Smoked paprika (I did not have smoked paprika so I used normal paprika and added 6 drops of liquid smoke to my stock)
- 1 Big pinch of saffron - soaked in a little bit of water
- 50ml Nagmaalwyn
- 500g Paella rice
- 1.75L Chicken stock
- Marinade - Mix all the marinade ingredients together and marinade the chicken for about ½ hour.
- Fry the chicken with the chorizo on medium to high heat until nice and brown.
- Take out of the pan and add all the rest of the ingredients except the Nagmaalwyn, rice and stock.
- Fry for about 5 minutes and then add the Nagmaalwyn to deglaze the pan. Scrape all the beautiful fried pieces from the bottom of the pan.
- Then pack the pieces of chicken in the pan – so they are spread evenly and add the sliced chorizo.
- Now add ½ of the stock to the pan and then the rice. Make sure all the rice is submerged in the stock.
- At this stage you don’t fiddle with the paella – don’t touch it with a spoon, ladle or anything. Cook over medium heat. When the paella looks dry add the rest of the stock and cook till done – about 40 minutes.
- Pour yourself a glass of good wine, rope in a few hungry friends and enjoy the flavours and the moment.