Paella! It’s a magical dish. Fun to make and fun to eat, and oh my I can eat and eat and eat this dish no problems at all.
We love a Paella and a Risotto in my house, and these two dishes are both very similar yet made in different ways.
What are the differences between a Paella and a Risotto?
Risotto is most well known for it’s Italian origins, it is a creamy rice dish which is often topped with cheese (such as parmesan). We usually make a Risotto with mushrooms, chicken and other veg such as peas and leeks.
A Paella is more of a Spanish (or Mexican) dish. It’s spicy and fun, and as it isn’t very creamy it is perfect for warmer weather.
The most fundamental difference between the two similar dishes is the way you cook it. A Risotto is constantly stirred, which allows the sauce to become thick, as you are breaking down the edges of the rice with the continuous stirring. With a Paella you want to leave the rice alone as much as possible as you don’t want a particularly thick sauce, you just want a layer of flavour over the rice and other ingredients allowing the dish to come together in all it’s wonderful spicy glory.
So let’s get to it and make a Paella!
For my classic go to, homemade Paella these are the ingredients I tend to use:
- 1 Cup of Risotto rice per person (I usually make for 4 people)
- 1 White Onion
- 2 cloves of garlic (crushed)
- 1 cup of Frozen Peas
- 1 pack of ready to eat prawns
- 2 chicken breasts
- 1 red pepper
- a handful of tomatoes
- rocket to serve
- Paprika (you will need a lot of this)
Putting it all together
This is usually a 1 pot dish when I make this, so for each component I usually set aside once prepped ready to add to the final dish. Don’t worry, I will tell you exactly what I do to make it x
- Firstly prepare the Onions and Garlic.
- Dice the Onions and add the garlic into the pot you will be using for the main dish. cook until slightly softened. move into a separate bowl.
- I find that cooking all elements of this dish in one pot allows the flavours to really mix well and infuse together.
- Next chop the chicken breasts into smaller pieces (I usually do small chunks but some people prefer slices) fry these in the dish that the onions were in until cooked through. move to the onion bowl.
- Dice the Pepper and tomatoes into chunks a similar size to the chicken. fry until slightly softened. move to the bowl.
- dust the cooked pieces in paprika and set aside for a few mins.
- meanwhile add the rice and 1 cup of boiling water per cup of rice (I usually add 5 cups of water for 4 cups of rice) bring to the boil.
- Once boiling add in all the cooked ingredients and more paprika to taste. mix thoroughly and place the lid on the pot. leave for 10 mins.
- Stir the rice and add more water if needed. I usually add another couple of teaspoons of paprika and a dusting of mixed herbs, and salt and pepper at this point as well.
- place the lid back on for 5 mins
- take the lid off and allow to simmer for a further 5 mins.
- add in the remaining ingredients (Prawns, and frozen peas)
- allow to cook for another 5 mins. adding more paprika if needed (to taste) and a dash more water if the dish is looking dry. try not to stir too much.
- Once the rice is soft and the water has been absorbed. serve, with a sprinkling of rocket and a side salad.
Once you have done this recipe once or twice, you begin to be able to know how long to leave the rice for and how much seasoning you need to add.
The times given above are all estimated as I tend to cook by eye and taste rather than by a set time.
Have a play around with your own version and see what works best for you. One alternative that I have done before is using Saffron as well as Paprika as the main seasoning in the dish, however as Saffron is very scarce and expensive I don’t use it all the time.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. What I love the most is how it is a dish we can all dip into and help ourselves to, rather than having a set portion of something.
Have fun making and eating x
Much Love xx