Tuesday 24 July 2007

Valencian Paella, made in Willesden Green

This was a recipe which I could not get wrong. Well, I could get it wrong, and probably have got bits of it wrong, but I'm satisfied enough with the results of this, my first ever paella, made from a recipe from Jose and Anna, using the Paella, Rice and Paprika they left me (and no Chorizo!).

Once again, I'm cooking for Caroline and Gabriel, so I figured that Paella would be a good thing to do as it's not really spicy and so would go down well with Gabriel. Plus it was a good one to flex my cooking muscles, as the instructions from Jose and Anna were pretty intricate. To be honest, like all the recipes I put up on this blog, if it had been a failure, it wouldn't be here. Even more so with this one, given that Anna and Jose will no doubt examine this particular blog entry and give thorough feedback on whether this was a success or failure.

Pretty much everything went according to plan with this recipe, although I was having to rush back to the computer to double check the email from Anna and Jose to make sure I was doing everything correctly. I totally forgot about adding the chickpeas, which I think would have been a nice addition. Plus I think I could have got away with a little more rice in the size pan I have. Also, I exchanged one of the mugs of hot water for chicken stock, as I remember them having some in their Paella, so I figured one mug wouldn't be so bad, especially as it was the nice stock cubes they left me.

Recipe for the Paella (Serves 2-3)

This is based on the size dish I have. So you need to adjust the proportions depending on the dish of Paella you have.
  • 4 Chicken Drumsticks
  • 2 Pork Spare Ribs, cut into chunks
  • 250g Cooked Seafood Medley (from Waitrose in my case, with mussels, prawns, squid and cockles)
  • 1.5 Red Peppers, cut into about 6 strips per pepper
  • 2 Tomatoes, pureed with a little Salt and Olive Oil (Anna used a cheese grater and so did I)
  • 1 Clove Garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 Cup of Fine Beans
  • 1 Cup of Chick Peas (optional, and forgotten in my case)
  • 1 large mug Paella Rice
  • 1 large mug Chicken Stock
  • 2 large mugs Water
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish Smoked Paprika
  • 0.5 teaspoons Turmerric
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 5-6 tablespoons Olive Oil

First, prepare all the vegetables and other ingredients so that it's easy to just get everything together as you're cooking. Put a little salt over the meat and heat up the 5 or 6 tablespoons of Olive Oil in the Paella. When it is hot enough, add the meat and cook until it is golden all over. Halfway through this process, add garlic and the Red Pepper and cook until the Red Pepper is easy to peel. The stove should be on a moderate heat. Nothing should burn, and you should just be moving pieces around the dish to make sure nothing sticks and cooks evenly.

Remove the meat as it is cooked and set aside. Once the Red Pepper is easy to peel, remove from the pan and set aside, then add the fine beans.

Once all the meat is cooked and you just have beans remaining in the pan, add the pureed Tomato and fry until cooked. Then add the Paella Rice and fry with the tomato, making sure it is all coated with the tomato and oil. You can now start adding the boiling water and stock if using (3:1 ratio to rice). Also add the Salt, Paprika and Tumeric (or Saffron), and make sure that the rice is boiling all over. Add the chickpeas (if you remember) at this point, then bring the heat down to a simmer. Stir the rice about to ensure that there are no peaks or troughs. It should be totally flat and even all over, as should the heat being applied underneath.

It will cook for about 20 minutes or so, until the rice is aldente. You need to add the cooked seafood in the last 6 minutes or so of cooking, then arrange the Chicken, Pork and Red Pepper pieces on the top. Once the Rice is aldente, switch off the heat and cover the Paella with a newspaper to help the top cook for a few more minutes.

You are now ready to serve. Bring the whole dish to the table and impress your friends!

Caroline and Gabriel both loved it. What little leftovers there are, Gabriel wants for breakfast. Personally, I'm quite pleased with the result for a first attempt.

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