This dish brings back so many memories for me of my Mam and it is the first time I have cooked it since she passed away a few months ago, so whilst I was teary as I cooked, it also brought back so many lovely memories from my childhood right through to present day of her. When I see paella I automatically think of her, of smiling tanned faces and jugs of cool sangria, full to the brim of fresh fruit and long spoons to scoop the fruit out. It reminds me of happy times, of holidays, of bringing a bit of Spanish sunshine to Ireland as temperatures hit zero degrees. That is exactly what I did on the 3rd of February when I rooted in my herb basket for saffron and took my paella rice out from the back of the press and within no time I could feel that warm evening breeze on my shoulders, I could hear ice clink into glasses and I could hear laughter and the buzz of foreign chatter, and I could see her.
This is my mother’s recipe with a few of my own tweaks ( ie more garlic and spicy sausage and no peas!) I always end up cooking a huge paella pan of it so that we can have it for dinner again the next day with chicken mixed in, which is just as delicious. The kids actually prefer the shellfish and seafood version , there is something about eating with your hands that is always a big win in this household!
My photo quality is not great and full of steam such was our eagerness to devour the lot!
Paella rice – 450 grams will feed a family of four for two nights so half this if you want it for one night only
1.5 litres of chicken stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes (leave out if you aren’t a tomato fan)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
2 medium onions
3 to 4 garlic cloves
Peas are optional and I leave them out as no-one likes them in my house
Saffron ( 4 to 5 strands)
Paprika – 2 teaspoons
Cayenne pepper 1 teaspoon
Mixed herbs 1 teaspoon
Calamari (about 20 rings cost approx €3.50 from the fishmongers in Supervalu)
Mussels 1 pack – buy ones that haven’t been cooked in garlic butter /wine. I buy fresh from the counter and cook in some chicken stock until the shells have opened ( approx 8 to 10 minutes ) Never use mussel shells which haven’t opened . A large portion should only cost approximately three Euro from the fishmongers counter.
Crab claws (1 pack of Supervalu precooked or fresh from fishmongers)
Ready cooked prawns ( 250grams – I use the Supervalu 125g packs of peeled and ready cooked)
1 spicy chorizo sausage
With one lemon use half over the pre-cooked prawns, crab claws and uncooked calamari and set aside with a small pinch of the herbs to marinade whilst the rice cooks.
Chop you onion finely and peppers into strips and fry in a hot paella pan or heavy based frying pan until soft.
On the same pan add your chopped chorizo and cook until done, remove the chorizo from the pan and remain cooking your veg in the remaining oil.
Add your minced garlic and cook for one further minute.
Add your rice and mix it through the vegetables until it is all fully coated in the rice and then add your tinned tomatoes. Squeeze the other half of the lemon in at this point.
Now add approximately 900ml of your chicken stock along with the saffron, paprika, mixed herbs and cayenne pepper and allow it to cook for fifteen minutes or so. You want the rice to absorb the liquid and cook through so if you need to add more liquid after this time do so with the remaining stock.
Now add your calamari on top of the simmering rice and place the lid on top of the mix and allow to cook for several minutes.
Next add in your prawns , replace the lid and allow to cook for two minutes.
Place your mussels (remove some from their shells and mix right through the paella ) and place some shelled on top for presentation.
Add your crab claws and chorizo and replace the lid for another few minutes.
When its ready to serve you will still have a little liquid in the pan but the rice will be soft to the bite and ready for serving, garnish with the second lemon divided into wedges.
Home-made garlic tortillas (which I forgot to take a photo of )
Mince four cloves of garlic and mix into several drops of sunflower/olive oil/rapeseed oil ( whatever oil you have) and brush over four wraps. ( I use the kids min wraps I buy for school lunches) . Put them into the oven on a baking tray at 180 approx ten minutes before your paella is ready to serve and they’ll be a lovely crunch to add to your Paella and to mop up and leftover sauce!