Sunday, 7 August 2011

Recipe XX - Paella Del Norte

When I set out to make a paella, I decided not to call it anything Spanish - the Mediterraneans are so fastidious when it comes to food that naming it anything other than something new was never going to happen. They are all about sun, sea and food, but when it comes to substance, forget it. For example, I would like to draw your attention to the cooking instructions written
on the side of the rice packet I bought in Luxembourg:

It says:
"1. To warm up 600cl of meat soup and 1/3 of Paella seasoning(PDS) until Bowling. Soon to extinguish fire. 2. To place in a paella pan, 4 spoonfuls of olive oil, 250 g of chicken (pieces), 250 g pork ribds, 1/2 red pepper stripes, fry during 5 minutes until they are gilded and to add 1 tomato grated, to continue frying 4-5 min all the ingredients together.
3. Add 200g, fry 1 minute, add the broth and to cook during 10 strong fire min, 5-6 min to average fire. To extinguish and to let rest 5 min (cover the paella pan with a rag).
Upon not having a copy of the Sun, I settled for a glass lid. Anyway, here's my version:

300g paella rice
4 chicken thighs
3 tomatoes (quartered)
1 pepper (sliced into strips)
1 courgette
1 onion
Some frozen peas
500ml chicken stock
Some chives
Fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, etc...)
White wine (or a squeezed lemon)

Cut up the vegetables into different shaped pieces. To cut a courgette into quarters in less than 2 minutes, firstly cut it lengthways twice to make a cross-shape, stopping a centimetre from the end. Then put it on its side and cut it into thin pieces (see photo).

Put the chicken into a paellera or wide frying pan, put salt over it and fry gently until sealed. Add the vegetables (not the tomatoes, peas or herbs) and continue frying for a further five to ten minutes, until they are nicely sweating but not soft.

Put the paella rice in for a long minute to soak up some of the oil. Add the tomatoes, and put a lid on to allow the juices to run. A couple of minutes into this stage you can add the stock, the peas and the herbs. Put more salt in, and add some white wine. I love to put a lot in because it complements the salty flavour of the meat and rice, but you can put as little as you like in.

By now the whole dish is bubbling away with all the juices and liquids, cooking the rice as it goes. Paella rice, contrary to most people's expectations, takes a relatively short time to boil, only 15 minutes. So once those 15 minutes since you added the rice are up, the rest is letting the dish mix in and acquire flavour. Some like to wait until the juices have been absorbed, and some like there to be
something runny. That's the reason for the lid - it is a harmless way for the juices to absorb.

Other notes:
Serve preferably outdoors.

A bottle of sweet wine from Moravia or Alsace will go splendidly with it!

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