Spanish people are known for loving parties, and when they involve food there is generally one common element in all of them: Paella.
This rice-based dish has become internationally recognised and is now commonly eaten by people at street food markets and celebrations in Australia.
Joseph Ferrer, Manager Business Development at SSI, has a solid experience as an amateur Paella chef, and shared his first memories of cooking the Spanish dish.
“I think the first Paella I cooked was over 20 years ago,” Joseph. “I had just returned from a long trip to Spain, where my family is from, and I bought my first home. I thought that a great way to celebrate would be to do a housewarming party with Paella for everyone.”
Naturally, when he started talking with the Community Engagement team about doing something for Community Kitchen, he instantly thought of this option for the SSI family, Joseph said.
For the Spanish themed Community Kitchen, Joseph decided to do a variation of his traditional recipe in order to meet the needs of the different cultures attending the event, including replacing seafood with halal chicken.
Although Paella can be prepared in a standard fry pan, a kind donation to SSI of a big-sized traditional frypan for Paella for the occasion was an advantage that allowed to cook easily for over a hundred guests.
“I think volunteering at Community Kitchen is a great opportunity to get out of the office and reconnect with the people SSI works for. You don’t get to interact with them face to face when you are working behind the scenes,” Joseph said.
2 kg Arborio rice
1 capsicum of each colour (red, green, yellow) chopped
1 bowl of peas
3 cloves garlic, crushed
30 chicken niblets
6 litres of vegetable stock
1kg tomato puree
1 tsp saffron
1 tsp turmeric
Heat the olive oil in a large paella pan (or frying pan) over medium heat. Add chicken niblets and fry them until brown and sealed. Remove the chicken pieces and save them in a bowl.
Using the same oil, add crushed garlic gloves until very lightly browned. Add tomato puree, capsicum and the peas to prepare the sofrito (stir-fried vegetables used as a base for Paella). Let it cook lightly for 10-15 minutes on low heat.
Add the rice, making sure it is spread evenly in the pan, and cook it for a few minutes.
Switch off the burner or the stove and let the mix rest for 10 minutes.
Add the chicken niblets back in the pan, distributing them evenly in the desired final presentation. From now on, do not stir the mix again.
Add the spices (saffron, turmeric and salt) to the stock and make sure they dilute completely. Switch the fire on again, pour half of the stock into the frypan and bring to boil. Add the rest of stock.
After a couple of minutes, reduce the heat to medium, always ensuring the content in the frypan boils evenly.
Once all the stock has been absorbed by the rice, it means the paella is cooked. If after tasting the rice, it still feels undercook, you can always add a bit of water and let it cook.
Let it sit for 5 minutes and serve.