Non Traditional Paella

I didn’t intend to go to Spain ever, but I was dragged along to Valencia, Barcelona and then to Madrid by an ex boyfriend and I’m so glad that I was.

In Valencia I first tried deep fried baby octopus, pulpo, in Madrid I had a beautiful platter of cheeses, seafood and cured meats and in Barcelona I had an amazing paella.

Paella is something I first tried cooking when at university, but using bacon instead of chorizo. It’s no substitute, but works if you are a bit of a fussy eater and you are trying out new foods in an attempt to diversify your palate.

Paella is one of my favourite things to cook and share with others.  As I don’t try to pretend that mine is in any way a traditional recipe I take out the things I don’t like and add in what I do, but I always try to use a Spanish stock cube if I can.  I find most of the stock cubes in the UK far too salty for my taste, so the last time I was in Spain I made sure I bought a fair few.  Likewise with saffron.  Compared to the UK it was dirt cheap in Spain, so I bought some and a mix especially for paella called, inventively, Paellero, which if you really want to, you can get from Amazon.

Freshly cooked paella

Freshly cooked paella

I tend to cook my paella without measuring anything out, I guess and, because I’ve been making it work for years, it tends to work.  For the purpose of this post however, I have adapted a recipe to fit to the way I cook it.

To serve approx. 6 people

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken thighs
  • 2 lemons, cut in half
  • olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small courgette, chopped
  • 1 small red chili, chopped
  • good pinch saffron
  • 1/2 chorizo ring, chopped
  • 700g/1½lbs Valencia or paella rice
  • 1/2 glass white wine
  • 1½-2l/2½-3½pt hot vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 packet mixed seafood, defrosted
  • 225g/8oz mussels
  • 225g/8oz raw prawns
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Seal and lightly colour the chicken pieces with the lemon halves in olive oil.
  2. Remove from the pan and add the chopped garlic, chili, shallots and chorizo. Fry for a few minutes, adding the saffron and rice. Fry for a minute allowing the rice to absorb the oil.  Add in the wine.
  3. Return the chicken and lemon to the pan and pour in enough hot stock to cover the mixture.  Add in the courgette and pepper. Partially cover the pan with a lid and bring to a gentle simmer.
  4. Continue to add the stock a ladle at a time, allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next.
  5. The rice should be almost cooked after 10-12 minutes. Check to make sure the chicken is cooked through before adding the seafood. Cook for about 3 minutes, adding more stock if necessary.
  6. To finish, serve from the pan with simple garlic bread.
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