Are you planning on having a group of people over for a party? Wondering what to serve them? The traditional Aussie go-to is the BBQ. The more exotic summer version is the seafood buffet. But what about something that combines the best aspects of these and takes away the stress?

In Spain, the answer to this is the paella parties. Combining tasty seafood and tender meat with rice, as well as salads and starters like empanadas, paella parties tick all the boxes. There is also the added benefit of theatre – guests can watch their meal being prepared, smell the cooking aromas and chat to the chef while they work up an appetite.

Paella parties are not a special event thing in Spain. Many families gather every weekend in a park, near the beach or at someone’s house and out comes the paella pan.

Did you know that paella is traditionally cooked by men? Yep, in Spain it’s the blokes who painstakingly prepare this dish.

There are lots of different styles of paella – from paella negra which is blackened with squid ink, very traditional paella made with rabbit and duck, seafood paella loaded up with juicy prawns, mussels and calamari, as well as colourful vegetarian options. The most popular style of paella is the chicken and prawn version, served with wedges of lemon – it’s the ultimate crowd pleaser.

Traditionally there are starters like platters of jamon, olives, fresh bread and manchego cheese. Empanadas stuffed with spiced potato, egg and beef will do the rounds while the paella is cooking (a process that takes up to an hour, depending on numbers – nobody wants undercooked rice).

Just like at an Aussie BBQ, there’s usually an Esky stacked with beer, wine and soft drinks but a lot of Spanish gatherings also feature sangria. Recipes vary wildly depending on what fruit is in season but there base ingredients are red wine, brandy, lemons, oranges, a bottle of soft drink and a bit of sugar. Sangria is basically a wine-based punch so don’t stress too much if you don’t have all the ingredients – you can ad lib a bit and it will still taste amazing.

Flavours of Spain can take care of all of your catering needs. Click here to check out our menus.

Feeling adventurous? Why not have a crack at making your own empanadas. We’ve chosen this recipe as it uses puff pastry rather than homemade pastry. The almonds are a uniquely Spanish twist!

Easy Chicken and almond empanadas

Ingredients

250g chicken thighs, diced into 1.5cm pieces
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
30g flaked toasted almonds
2 tablespoons sour cream
Empanada wrappers or use 2 sheets of pre-rolled puff pastry
2 egg yolks
Method

Making the Filling

Heat some oil in large nonstick pan over low heat and sweat the onions until very soft and translucent.
Increase the heat, add the red chilli, pork and all the dry spices and cook until the pork takes on some colour (3-4 mins).
Now add the lime juice and cook until the liquid has evaporated.
Take off the heat, allow to cool then the almonds & sour cream and season.
To Build

Cut out some 8cm diameter rounds of puff pastry and place 1 tablespoon of filling in the centre of each dough round.
Lightly brush the edges with egg. Fold dough over to make a half moon shaped parcel, pressing the edges with fork to seal.
Place on prepared baking sheets.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 30 mins.
Cooking the Empanadas

Preheat the oven to 190C.
Brush empanadas with beaten egg yolk. Bake until light golden brown, about 15 – 20 minutes.
Serve nice and hot.