Paella for a friend.

12 Feb

A friend has asked me to make a Paella dish that does not contain seafood.  I love Paella and often choose it when we are eating out on holiday in Spain.  It can be hit or miss though and, when watching cooking demonstrations in Fuerteventura, I can see why!  It seems adding the ingredients is an exact science.  I am quite nervous that this is going to turn out like a sticky mass.  Still, always up for a challenge!! The first time I had Paella was in 1991, cooked on a wooden fire, on the beach in Nerja.  The cook, Chiringuito Ayo, has been making massive dishes of paella in this way for over 40 years.  Chiringuito is quite famous in Nerja.  When he was a boy, in 1959, he was playing with some friends from his village, Maro, when they climbed through a small hole and discovered the famous Caves of Nerja.  Imagine their surprise when they were confronted with this! The dish originated in the Valentia Region of Spain and is typically made in a large, shallow pan called a paellera.  Making paella is often a man’s activity in Spain.  I suppose this equates to barbecues in the UK, as they make it outdoors on an open fire made of orange and pine wood.  The one thing that appears to come through from my research, is that the recipe is adapted to suit personal taste, with the exception of a few key ingredients.  The Spanish make it look so easy!  I remember this chef doing a cooking demonstration in our hotel once.  The paella was delicious! Well, I’ve dusted off my paella pan that I bought in 1991 and have never used, and here goes.  I have chosen a variety of meats for this recipe.  If you choose to make it, you can add or omit, according to your own taste.  You can also add raw prawns and fresh mussels to make a mixed paella, but leave these until the last 5 minutes of cooking or they will be overcooked.  You will need special rice for this and it must be short grain.  I could not find Paella Rice so I used Carnaroli.  I made mine on the barbecue.  You will need a kettle barbecue and we let the coals burn for 15 minutes before we started cooking (you don’t have to let the coals go grey). The recipe below is for those who do not have a barbecue, just keep the same cooking times if you do! Meat Paella   Serves 4 (hungry people)

  • 12 oz (350g) rice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken thighs, bone in, cut in half
  • 8 oz (225g) sirloin steak, fat removed, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 8 oz (225g) tenderloin pork, fat removed, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 4 oz (110g) raw chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 heaped tsp paprika
  • 1/4 level tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 level tsp saffron strands
  • 8 oz (225g) ripe tomatoes, skinned and roughly diced
  • 20z (50g) frozen peas
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges to garnish
  1. Prepare everything as per ingredient list before you start making the paella, you will not have time to mess about between each step!
  2. Heat the oil in the pan over a fairly high heat.  Season the chicken and add to pan, saute on all sides until golden brown.  Remove and set aside.  Do the same with the beef and lastly the pork.
  3. Next, add the onion, pepper and chorizo and fry these over a medium heat for 6-8 minutes, or until they are browning at the edges.  Add the garlic, paprika, cayenne and saffron and cook for another minute, making sure the garlic does not burn.  Return the meat to the pan, followed by the tomatoes, plenty of seasoning and 2 pints (1.2 litres) of boiling water.  Bring everything to a gentle simmer, turn down the heat and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
  4. Push the meat to the edges of the pan and pour the rice into the centre.  Bring everything back to the boil, give it a stir so all the rice is covered by liquid, and simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally to distribute the rice and make sure it is evenly cooked
  5. Add the peas and continue to simmer for 10 minutes until the moisture has been absorbed.  Remove from the heat and cover with a clean tea towel for 5 minutes to absorb the steam.
  6. Serve with lemon wedges.

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