It all started with the black rice that I bought in Adelaide at The Central Markets at San Jose Small goods. I was very excited about it because I have never come across black Paella rice. I showed it to Miguel of Bocata Cafe in Waterloo. He looked at me very sceptically and offered me some of the Bomba ( Paella) rice he sells. I wasn’t to be discouraged and set about making Paella with it. I think you can see why it is not quite as popular as regular Paella rice. Sure it’s a novelty, a great Halloween dish. All things cooked with this rice are very tasty but end up purpley black when done.
This started Miguel Cajias and I talking about Paella. Miguel owns Bocata a Spanish Deli and Cafe just near Danks Street in Waterloo. Bocata (pretty much meaning sandwich in Spanish )was the perfect place to study Paella, because every Friday at Bocata Miguel cooks Paella. It’s his way of celebrating the end of the week in Spanish style …enter ” Fiesta Friday”
A plate of Chicken and Prawn Paella is $11. Its simple and unadorned but tasty, and if you work in this area it’s a great deal for lunch. Add a glass of sangria ($6.50) or a 1 litre jug ($ 25.00), nothing too strong here but a pick me up for the afternoon. Its the spirit of enjoyment and an easy Spanish style. There is a selection of Pintxos for $1 if Paella alone is not enough. Miguel is a friendly host moving from table to table, making sure everyone is happy . The rest of the menu is simple cafe fare but with a Spanish twist. There’s plenty of Chorizo and Jamon, Manchego cheese to buy and to eat in and there is dulce de leche with toast if you want it.[portfolio_slideshow]
Paella is a dish that has as many recipes as the people that cook it. It’s hard to find people that agree on the ingredients for Spains’ favourite dish, the variations are regional and every one has an opinion. However there are some rules and this is where Miguel comes in with his tips for what you need to make a good Paella
**Paella is not made like risotto, once the ingredients and stock is added, stir it once, spread the ingredients evenly then dont stir it again. A crust should form on the bottom of the pan and adding flavour and texture. Keep turning the pan so that every part of the Paella pan gets an even heat. You can push some of the ingredients aside to check that you are getting a bit of a crust. A crust doesn’t mean a blackened bottom. If there is not enough heat the flavour may be more like pilaf rice, a bit steamed.
Cook the paella until the rice at the bottom is done and the rice at the top is almost done. Then remove the pan from the heat and cover it, (a teatowel is a good cover), letting it sit, covered, while you eat Pintxos or nibbles and then eat from the pan. Resting will allow the rice to finish cooking in its own heat.
- The Rice. Buy a good Paella ( Bomba) rice, it is a short fat grain a little like Aborio. The grains should be cooked through and separate when the Paella is cooked, not creamy like risotto.
- The Pan. Paella should be cooked in a wide shallow pan. The rice must cook in a shallow layer , so the more people eating Paella the wider and rounder the pan, they never get deeper. They should not be non-stick as the rice depends on flavour from the closeness to the bottom of the pan. Use a thinish skillet if you dont have a Paella pan. Paella is cooked without a lid except for the very last resting period.
- The Liquid used must be good or there will be very little flavour in the dish. A good quality stock is paramount.
- The Soffrito”. This is a flavour base used to start the Paella. It varies with region but can include onions, celery, garlic , tomatoes, paprika or herbs and a sweet red capsicum. The idea is to sauté this soffrito to build the flavour before the rice and any other ingredients are added.
- The heat source. This must be enough to accommodate the size of the pan.
- 3 whole Chicken Marylands cut into 3 drumsticks and 3 thigh portions
- 1.25 litres of chicken stock ( approximately)
- 2 cured chorizo sausages (sliced)
- 1 onion , diced
- 1 red capsicum sliced
- 1 carrot cut into rounds
- 1 large clove of garlic crushed
- 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika
- 1 cup of peas
- 2 cups of rice ( Bomba rice or at a push a good carnaroli)
- ½ cup of chopped parsley
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- Heat the oil in a paella pan and brown the chicken pieces on each side seasoning well. Put them aside and add all of the vegetables ,paprika and the chorizo to the pan and saute till fragrant and just colouring.
- Add the rice and toss around the pan. Add the can of tomatoes and the stock and stir well.
- Lay the chicken pieces on the top and turn down to low.
- Put the pot into the oven for 30 to 40 minutes. The chicken should be cooked through.
- Add the peas and parsley and simmer on low for a further 8 minutes. This will allow a crust to form and the peas to start to cook. Cover with a teatowel and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.
I enjoyed Friday Fiesta at the invitation of Miguel Cajias
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Bocata Cafe has now closed. It has reopened at: 39/101 Doody Street, Alexandria, Sydney. Under the name Ola Lola. same owner same good food