paella on the beach

If anyone enjoys the “theatre” involved in cooking for a crowd and entertaining, then you simply must get your hands on one of these giant catering size paella pans and portable burners. (Or phone me and I’ll come and cook one for you!)

Recently, on our annual family holiday to Mollymook on the NSW South Coast we celebrated Australia Day with 30 of our family and friends down on Narrawallee beach. We carted the paella pan, trestle tables and several ice and drink filled esky’s down to the beach and had the best afternoon with the kids running around and playing in the sand and surf while the adults enjoyed catching up and having a few drinks.

I spent most of the day prepping the giant sized paella and we had the freshest seafood straight from the port in Ulladulla. I took all of the ingredients already chopped and individually wrapped in esky’s, being careful to keep everything nicely chilled. Pictured below is me on the left, my good friend; Bim, who also loves cooking and thoroughly enjoyed the cooking process, Matt; my gorgeous brother in law, Cork Daddy; my husband and paella cooking partner and Flemo; Corks and my best mate who enjoyed a few beers.

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Here is the recipe for the best paella (“pae-ey-a”) ever. Don’t forget the jugs of Sangria!

Paella Recipe (for 30 pax. You will have to adjust the ingredients for a smaller sized pan. Feel free to email me and I can help you figure out how much you will need for whatever sized pan you can get your hands on). 

8 chorizo sausages, skins removed and finely sliced
6 chicken breasts, diced
2 kilos Green King Prawns
2 kilos Mussels, cleaned with beards removed
4 squid tubes, cleaned and finely chopped in to rings
Olive oil
8 shallots, finely chopped
Maldon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
10 garlic gloves, crushed
10 teaspoons paprika
4 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2.5 kilos aborio rice
6 tins of chopped tomatoes
Saffron, soaked in a little bit of water. (Saffron is expensive so you can just use on small container that you buy in Woolies).
6 red capsicums, finely sliced
1 kilo green beans, chopped
Flat leaf parsley, finely chopped (used nearly a whole bunch)
Chicken stock – I used approx 6 litres of stock in a box, and had extra water and chicken stock powder in case

– Heat a good amount of olive oil in the pan and fry off the chorizo sausage for a couple of minutes until golden and their juices have been released. Stir constantly. Reserve on a clean plate.
– Using more olive oil if needed, fry off the chicken pieces, adding salt and pepper. Reserve on a clean plate.
– Using more oil if needed, add the shallots and sprinkle with sea salt and constantly stir so that it doesn’t burn.
– Once the shallots are starting to get soft, add the garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper and stir around to become coated in oil. Work quickly here so that you don’t burn the spices. (The aroma will be amazing!)
– Now add the rice and stir around to get covered in the spices and so that the rice starts to turn translucent.
– Add the stock, tomatoes, capsicum and saffron and stir it all around.
– Bring this to the boil and then back it off to a slow simmer. Now that the stock is in the pan, you are not allowed to stir the rice. Resist this urge as the Spanish judge a good paella on the socarrat, which is the crusty base on the bottom of the pan.
You should hopefully have friends all around you enjoying the cooking process and I’m sure everyone is offering you advice on how to cook the dish! It’s the fun part. Have a drink and relax. Enjoy the cooking process and don’t get stressed. It will work out!
– After about 20 minutes, the rice should be starting to cook a little, however will be still quiet hard which is what you want. Add the green beans, mussels, prawns and calamari, scattering them around and finding space in the pan!
– Obviously cooking times will vary significantly depending on how large your paella pan is and how many people you are cooking for, but from start to finish for a pan of this size, if takes about 50-60 minutes all up from start to finish. It is ready once the mussels have opened and the prawns have turned a nice pink colour. The rice should be al dente as it will continue to cook sitting in the pan with the residual heat once the gas has been turned off.
– Sprinkle the parsley over the top and grab a glass of Sangria!

Serve with a generous serving of the aioli (recipe below),  some lemon wedges, salad leaves and crusty bread.

Garlic Aioli

2 cups of whole egg mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon (adjust to taste)
2 crushed garlic cloves
Be generous with the cracked black pepper
Season with Maldon salt


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