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Recipes
Veggie Paella
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Chicken Paella

Feeds 6 people

Ingredients

9 medium-sized chicken drumsticks on the bone (around 1kg overall)
9 medium-sized chicken thighs on the bone (around 1kg overall)
600g runner beans or Spanish flat beans
400g tin cooked butter beans, drained 400g plum tomatoes, pureed
4 cloves garlic, finely grated

2.5 litres chicken stock (either home-made, or a decent brand)
1 kg paella rice (must be paella rice, no substitutes)
100ml sunflower oil
10 strands saffron
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
salt
small bunch rosemary (8 stalks)
2 lemons

30cm paella pan
fat skimmer (round and flat skimmer)

Making the paella
Put the pan on a medium heat, and add the oil. Heat it up, then add the chicken pieces, cooking them until they're golden brown (around 10-15 minutes). Next add the runner beans. Cook on medium heat until the beans are soft and darker coloured, around 10 min.

Push the chicken and beans out to the edges of the pan, creating a hole about 15cm wide in the middle of the pan. Add the garlic, and fry in the middle until slightly coloured. Add the paprika, and stir it in to the garlic, until it's all mixed in and the garlic is a beautiful reddish colour. Then add the pureed tomatoes and stir them in to the garlic and paprika mix. Cook them together for a minute then stir in all the chicken and beans, trying to coat everything with the mix.

On a separate ring, add the saffron strands to the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Then add to the pan and turn the heat up to high. Taste the stock for seasoning, adding salt as needed (some commercial stocks have a high enough salt content themselves).

Once the stock has come to the boil in the pan, add the rice in a cross of even height in the pan. The rice should just about break the surface of the stock; if it's too high above the level of stock then add a bit more hot water to level it. Spread the rice out as evenly as possible in the pan; don't panic too much about it just now, as you can keep moving it around in a few minutes when the rice has absorbed some of the stock and is easier to move.

Keep the flame on high for 8-10 minutes, every few minutes moving rice where necessary to even out the distribution in the pan. Once the rice starts showing through the surface of the stock, turn the heat down to medium-low.

At this point put the butter beans on top of the rice and add the rosemary in a star-like pattern. Cook for a further 8 minutes, keeping an eye on the rice; it shouldn't be too hard or too soft (this, unfortunately, is the trick that comes with experience). If the rice still looks too hard, sprinkle some more hot water over the top of the rice, evenly. If it starts looking like it's completely cooked while there's still a bunch of liquid in the pan, then crank the heat up to medium-high to evaporate some of the liquid.

Once most of the liquid has been absorbed (after 15-20 minutes), turn the heat right down to low and leave for a few minutes. This is to crisp the rice at the bottom of the pan. Part the rice gently with the skimmer to test the bottom, to make sure it doesn't catch and burn. Turn off the heat, and cover the pan with newspaper, and leave for 5 minutes to rest (literally; in Spanish they say "reposar", which means to chill out)

Garnish with the lemons, cut into wedges, which you then squeeze on to the rice. It's best to put the pan in the middle of the table, then dig into it with forks straight from the pan, taking extra care to scratch the rice from the bottom of the pan (this is the soccaraet, the best part). Enjoy with some great white wine.