Party paella


  • Serves 8 people

"To me, paella is great for feeding a lot of people easily. It's the best one-pot dish in the world, and you can feed up to 500 people if your pan is big enough," says Frank Camorra. "Twelve people is not that difficult, and six is a cinch. This is a paella that's quite simple to make, but it's a crowd-pleaser, especially over Christmas. You can buy specially made large gas-ring burners in Spanish delicatessens for the big paella pans, but a barbecue flat grill is the next best thing, so buy a pan that fits it snugly. Or you can put it on top of your stove over all your burners. The problem with this method is that you've got to move it around a little bit and the edges cook more than the middle. It works, but it takes a bit more care and you've got to watch it. Or if you're a total expert, you can of course do it over a fire - different woods, and some vines at the start to get it nice and hot."

  • 1 chicken (about 1.2kg)
  • 5 ripe vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 100 ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 450 gm cleaned calamari, cut into 3cm pieces
  • 3 large onions, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • Good pinch of saffron threads
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 500 gm each red and green capsicum, diced
  • 135 ml fino Sherry
  • 450 gm bomba rice (see note)
  • 750 gm mussels, scrubbed, beards removed
  • 800 gm vongole, soaked in cold salted water for 2 hours to remove grit, drained
  • To serve: lemon wedges
01   Place chicken breast-side up on a board, slice down each side of the breasts, remove breasts and wings, then legs. Separate breasts from wings, cut breasts into three pieces, trim excess skin (discard) and set aside. Cut wing tips from wings (wing tips and carcass can be reserved to make stock), halve at the joint and set aside. Cut through leg joints to separate thighs from legs, trim bony ends from drumsticks, cut each drumstick in half through the bone and set aside. Cut thighs through the bone into thirds and set aside.
02   Blanch tomatoes until skins split (30 seconds-1 minute), refresh and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel, remove seeds (discard), finely chop and set aside.
03   Heat 60ml oil in a 48cm-diameter paella pan over high heat, add calamari, season to taste and stir continuously until firm and caramelised (1½-2 minutes), transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon, cover and set aside. Add chicken to pan, season to taste and stir continuously until lightly browned (3-4 minutes). Push the chicken to one side, reduce heat to low-medium, add onion, garlic, saffron, bay leaves and remaining oil, season with a little salt and stir continuously until onion is golden (4-5 minutes). Add capsicum and cook until soft and jammy (8-10 minutes), then mix chicken in.
04   Drain all liquid from tomato and add to pan with fino, increase heat to medium-high, season to taste and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping base of pan, until any liquid is reduced and mixture looks like thick and chunky jam (15-20 minutes). Add 1.6 litres tap-hot water, stir to combine and bring to the simmer. Return calamari to pan and cook for 10 minutes, sprinkle in rice and stir through evenly. Continue cooking until rice starts to show, adding mussels and vongole after 12 minutes (15-20 minutes; do not stir again). Remove from heat, cover with 2 tea towels and set aside to steam (15 minutes). Serve hot with lemon wedges.

Note Bomba is a short-grain rice from the Calasparra region of Spain. It's available from select delicatessens; if it's unavailable, substitute another short-grain rice.

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