RECIPE: Crowd-pleasing paella cooked on a skottel braai
Give paella a local flavour and make it on the skottel braai. It’s the ideal way of catering for a crowd, so gather your friends and family and get everyone chopping, chirping and stirring while sipping on sangria
Paella has its origins in Valencia and is probably one of Spain’s most famous dishes, deriving its name from the pan paellera, the pan it is cooked in.
There are as many versions of this recipe as there are cooks, and this one is easily made on a skottel.
The most important ingredient is the rice. In Spain, short-grain rice such as Valencia, Senia or Bomba is used. Arborio or a risotto rice are good substitutes if the others are not available.
The rice needs to be absorbent and it’s important not to stir while cooking. Stirring releases the starch and will make the mixture creamy, which is not the texture you are aiming for in a paella.
Don’t worry if you think the base is burning — the thick crusty caramelised layer that forms at the bottom of the pan is called the socarrat and is considered the tastiest part.
The flavour base for paella is sofrito, a mixture of onion, garlic and tomato. Some recipes include peppers. Saffron is essential to give paella its golden colour and earthy flavour. Although expensive, it’s worth it for the authenticity of the dish. Depending on your taste and budget, locally available ingredients like chicken, prawns, calamari and mussels can be used.
HOW TO MAKE A PAELLA ON THE BRAAI
A pinch of saffron threads
30ml (2 tbsp) boiling water
45ml (3 tbsp) olive oil
10-12 bone-in chicken thighs
1 chorizo sausage, sliced
250g ham, diced (use leftover ham from Christmas, streaky bacon or pancetta)
2 large onions, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
15ml (1 tbsp) smoked paprika
6 medium tomatoes, chopped
80ml (⅓ cup) dry white wine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
750ml (3 cups) Arborio or risotto rice
1.5-2 litre of fish stock (I used Ina Paarman’s)
12 large prawns, deveined and unshelled
500g mussels in shells
300g calamari tubes, cut into rings
375ml (1½ cups) frozen peas
Bunch of chopped parsley
1. Combine saffron and boiling water and stand for 5 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a skottel over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until nicely browned and done. Transfer to a bowl.
3. Add the chorizo, onion and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until the onion has softened. Add in ham and heat through.
4. Add the saffron mixture and paprika and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.
5. Add the tomatoes and wine and cook for 5 minutes or until softened.
6. Add the rice and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly over the base of the skottel. Add stock and bring to the boil. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until the stock has been absorbed. Do not stir.
7. Top the rice with prawns, mussels, calamari and peas. Return the chicken to the pan. Cover with foil and cook for 10 minutes or until the seafood is cooked.
8. Garnish with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.