crusted chicken and chorizo paella

I’ve made lots of paellas in my time, they’re very low maintenance (as you actually must leave them to cook, not stir them) and they’re good for a crowd. But I only recently made this one with an egg crust. Why did I wait so long? It adds another layer of texture and flavour and softens and enriches the whole dish. Just make sure to get a nice soft set.

SERVES 6–8

1 litre (1¾ pints) chicken stock

¼ tsp saffron strands

3 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

8 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs

250g (9oz) spicy sausages, cut into chunks

150g (5½oz) chorizo sausage, cut into chunks

1 large onion, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

400g (14oz) tomatoes, chopped

3 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp chilli flakes

375g (13oz) Spanish paella rice

325g jar of roasted peppers (or 4 home-roasted peppers), drained and sliced

5 medium eggs

1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

finely grated zest of ½ unwaxed lemon

generous grating of nutmeg

lemon wedges, to serve

Bring the stock to the boil in a medium saucepan. Stir in the saffron, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a paella pan, large deep frying pan or broad shallow casserole (I use a cast-iron one for this) that is at least 30cm (12in) in diameter. Season the chicken thighs and brown them on both sides. (You want to colour the chicken well, not cook it through.) Take the chicken out of the pan and set it aside. Add the sausages and chorizo to the pan and brown all over, then set aside with the chicken.

Pour off all but 1½ tbsp of fat from the pan. Add the onion and cook until it is soft and golden, about four minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another two minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for another four minutes. Stir in the paprika and chilli and cook for a minute, stirring, then add the chicken stock. Return the chicken, sausages and chorizo, bring to a simmer and cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes.

Pour the rice all round the chicken and season everything really well. Cook for 25 minutes. You don’t need to stir the rice as it cooks, in fact you shouldn’t.

Ten minutes before the end of cooking time add the peppers, tucking them in among the meat and rice. When the cooking time is up, all the stock should have been absorbed. Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7 or preheat the grill to its highest setting to coincide with the end of the cooking time.

Meanwhile, lightly beat the eggs in a bowl with some salt, pepper, the parsley, lemon zest and nutmeg. Pour this over the top of the paella, tilting the pan from side to side to ensure an even layer of egg (if it seeps into the paella rather than making a crust on top it just produces a heavy dish). Now either put the dish in the hot oven or under the hot grill for five minutes. The top should be set and crusty. Serve with lemon wedges.