Lemon, artichoke and butterbean paella
A few things to say about Paella, while recognising I am absolutely no expert. I have found it’s best in a thin based paella pan over a gas flame or even better a BBQ/fire. Failing that whatever large shallow (to drive off the liquid quickly) saute pan you have will work, the thinner based the better, for once in my life I categorically AM NOT asking you to use a cast iron pan.
The rice must be short grain so it won’t dry out when toasted. I have used bomba (also known as Calasparra) rice, but there are other varieties you can buy too. I have been told that risotto rice works as well though not been brave enough to try that wild and crazy risk.
DO NOT STIR. The end. This is not a risotto. The lack of stirring is what gives you the crisp browned, sticky, chewy layer of “socarrat” that is the main reason I eat paella. If you have made tadig then you will know what I am talking about.
Don’t scrimp on the olive oil – the oil and your generosity with it is what makes this.
I’ve made this a few different ways, a few subs I have enjoyed are; adding a finely chopped head of fennel with the onions and carrots at the start. Adding jar of roasted red peppers, chopped with the rice. Adding any kind of white bean or chickpea would work here.
Good extra virgin olive oil
2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 head fennel, finely chopped, any herby bits kept for later
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, flesh finely chopped, seeds discarded
A heaped teaspoon of smoked paprika
A large pinch of saffron, soaked in 50ml of water
100ml tomato passata
100ml white wine
1.5 litres good veg stock
300g short grain paella rice (see above)
1 x 400g tin or jar butter beans
1 x 400g jar artichokes, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
A small bunch of parsley
First prep all your veg for the soffrito (the veg base of the paella), keeping all the trimmings, garlic and onion skins, carrot peel in a bowl. Put your veg stock in a pan and add all the trimmings to add some more depth to the stock, you can add a bit more veg here if you have some on hand.
Heat about 4 tablespoons of oil in your pan (more on that above) add the onion, carrot and fennel if you are using it and saute for about 10 minutes until really soft and sweet and beginning to brown. Add the peppers, tomatoes, garlic and smoked paprika and cook for another few minutes. Add the saffron and its soaking water, the wine and the passata and cook for another few minutes.
Onto the rice, add it to the pan and stir it well to coat, adding more oil here if you think you need it. Shuffle the rice into an even layer and add about 800ml of the strained stock. Simmer hard, no stirring, for 10 minutes by which time a good amount of the liquid should have been absorbed but it should still feel like there is enough for it to cook for another 10 minutes, if not add some of the remaining stock, remember no stirring.
Next scatter over the butterbeans and the artichokes evenly and cook, No stirring, for another 8 to 10 mins. Again if the rice looks too dry before its cooked (you check by trying some – sorry if this is stating the obvious), add a little more stock, but do not stir it in.
The key to the crispy bottom is to let it cook for a minute or two after all the liquid has been absorbed, you should hear a sizzle and see the edges crisp. Take it off the heat and cover to allow it to rest for 10 minutes then top with the lemon wedges, the chopped parsley and any fennel fronds if you are using fennel.