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.
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
- 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
- Seal and lightly colour the chicken pieces with the lemon halves in olive oil.
- 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.
- 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.
- Continue to add the stock a ladle at a time, allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next.
- 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.
- To finish, serve from the pan with simple garlic bread.