If you are cooking a paella at home you will need.... a paella and preferably a gas hob. They make paella pans for electric hobs, which are very expensive. I have never used so can't vouch for them, but i don't see why they shouldn't work.
The other prerequisite is a fine chicken stock. I never use powders or cubes and perhaps they are better than they once were, but why waste that carcass from the the last roast chicken, with all that flavorful, or just ask for some bones form your butcher. Stocks are the foundations of cooking and any aspiring chef of any caliber should master it, beside which it is so satisfying and like a lot of long tasks in a kitchen it does most the work for you. I find a heat diffuser indispensable, indeed for the few quid it costs it must be one of the best value for money bits of kit in a kitchen. With this and on a low heat you will never forget a stock and let it boil. You can leave it for hour after hour safe in the knowledge the fat will not boil into it. Just a little gentle ladelling of fat and scum off the top from time to time is required. And so......
A fine stock, light, clear and tasty will give your rice the comforting taste that you are looking for. Rice is a gift to a chef – a joyous texture and a blandness of colour and flavour that gives the proverbial blank canvas that allows it to take on the colour and the flavours the chef wants.
Chicken bones, wings, necks
It is always good practice to run the bones, necks, feet or whatever bits you are using under a cold tap for some while to clean as much as possible and to remove any excessive amounts of fat, thus reducing the scum that will be created. Coarsely chop the vegetables. You do not need to chop up the vegetables finely as the length of time the stock cooks for will extract the flavours.
Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. When it comes close to the boil, scum will rise and must be ladled off the top. Never let the stock boil, it must only simmer and very gently at that. This prevents the fat and scum being boiled into the stock, which makes it cloudy and affects the flavour. Simmer for three to four hours, removing the scum and fat regularly and topping up with cold water if necessary. When finished, sieve the stock and let settle. You can then further reduce the stock if you need or desire, to intensify the flavour.
Saffron, toasted and ground
Red and green peppers
Meat (see below)
Strips of grilled red peppers
An assortment of meats can be used. Chicken, game birds, rabbit, snails, chorizo, pork tenderloin are all good. Chicken leg is far superior to breast for paella as it has more flavour and doesn’t dry out; it must be browned off until the skin is crispy. All the other meats just need to be browned. Snails should be added after the stock. In all honesty, I don’t think I have ever seen chorizo used in Spain and I have had many complaints about my use of it by Spaniards, but I love its addition, even if it not authentic.
In your endeavor to create flavour in the final dish we will make a sofrito of onions a peppers. Sounds foreign, well it is fundamental to Spanish cooking and is just softened vegetables, most often onions and tomatoes, sometimes parsley. Her it is just onions and peppers. Take an onion and chop finely. Heat some olive oil in a suitable sized saucepan until almost smoking, throw in the onion and a good amount of salt, the purpose of the salt being to draw out the water, to evaporate and allow the blessed thing to fry and not boil. After a few minutes carefully stirring the onion and not allowing it to colour, add some finely chopped peppers, if you like, and cook slowly for fifteen minutes or so, until soft and sweet. Add some chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned, depending on season and quality. Allow this to cook for some while stirring occasionally so it does not catch, slowly intensifying the flavours. Should it catch a little add some water or white wine and scrape with a wooden spoon so as to prevent it continuing, but only a little so it evaporates and once again it can continue to fry. Remove from the heat and prepare for the fun. If you are not using chorizo, add some pimenton.
Now you can show off – up to a point – you still have work to do. Ok, get your meat. For me a paella for four – get two legs of rabbit, cut in two, and two legs of chicken cut in two or three, depending on size and a couple of good quality chorizo cut into suitable pieces. Season these and introduce them to a hot-ish paella pan with olive oil in. First the chicken, it is imperative to get good crispy skin, there are few things less appealing than boiled chicken skin; a massive turn off. To brown and crisp chicken skin takes time on a medium hot heat, not fierce, just medium hot. Also, add plenty of salt to the skin, and don’t ask why; some things I have technical, scientific answers for, others are I don't. It works that is why. If you are unsure start with a medium heat where the sound is not too loud when the chicken meets the oil. This will take a little longer but is safer. As you get more confident and understand the levels of heat you can increase it. But that is for another day. So, when the chicken is almost golden and deeply crispy add the rabbit and chorizo and brown. These are more straightforward, just colour evenly and do not let them burn. Remove all the meat except the chorizo from the pan, add 400 g of La Bomba rice preferably (again for 4) . Calasparra is the trendy one, more available, more expensive and in my view not so good for paella. La Bomba is more forgiving, it holds its shape better and can absorb more liquid before it explodes and becomes porridge. Any paella rice will do. Stir in your sofrito (your cooked onion and pepper mixture) and let them all acquaint themselves with a gentle stir over a medium heat. Then add your stock. To be precise three times the volume of the rice if using Bomba rice, two and a half for o. Add about a quarter of a teaspoon of your toasted, powdered saffron (for a paella of 4) Heavily season. This is important, when you taste the stock it must be over seasoned because it is going to be absorbed by half the volume of bland rice so that will dilute the seasoning if you get my drift. Cook now on a fierce heat. When it is still wet, soupy almost, but the rice is still just below the surface, add the meat and pop in a medium oven for about fifteen minutes, remembering to float a little fino on top of the rice maybe five minutes before it is finished, adding an extra layer of flavour. Try the rice to check and when it is cooked, let it rest covered with a clean tea towel for five minutes or so for the flavours to fall asleep in each other’s arms. Garnish with some strips of grilled red peppers, lemon wedges and chopped parsley. You will be a hero, paellas are an impressive dish, they work the crowds.