Saturday, 4 September 2010


Thursday night had Tim on a night shift, and my usual tea for myself is some sort of tomato pasta sauce, but everything recently seems to have been tomatoey, so I thought of something different. Paella. I used to cook this ages ago, and even got the Brother into the joys of Chorizo and into cooking this.

Now, this isn't strictly actual Paella. I don't use Paella rice (can't be bothered), or a Paella Pan as Mr Stein says you need. And I probably don't really follow the normal way of cooking it - Mr Stein says to just leave it and don't stir. This may work with said pan and rice, but really, not stirring is surely a recipe for disaster for whatever I cook. Maybe this is therefore a kind of savoury rice, but the flavours are Paella-ish.

I started by chopping an onion, half a yellow pepper and half a red pepper and fried them gently with a couple of finely chopped cloves of garlic.
I then diced one chicken breast into small chunks and stuck that in the pan too.
I'll say at this point that I was using the biggest frying pan we have, as whenever I cook a rice dish, I seem to overestimate the amount of rice needed and the amount of food seems to multiply over the cooking period!

Next I add some sliced chorizo to the pan, I used about half of the sausage that I'd bought form the "Farmer's Market". Cooked this a little until the oils came out and things were turning the lovely chorizo colour. I then put in some rice. I used the normal basmati rice that we keep in the cupboard. I put in a smallish amount, then thought it didn't look enough, then topped it up. This is always what I do/my mistake! Stirred it a little to coat in the oil, then added half a pint of chicken stock into which I'd added about half a teaspoon of saffron strands.

This is where the tasting and adjusting happens. The liquid had disappeared, and the rice was not cooked so I added more water. Then later, after stirring, yes, stirring the Paella, I tasted it, and due to the ratio of rice to stock and other flavourings, it tasted of nothing. So I added another stock cube with some more water. After this had been soaked up and the rice was almost cooked, I tasted again. It kind of tasted like chicken stock. Whoops. So I added some paprika, which gave it a bit of heat and a some more interest. I then chucked in quite a few frozen peas - enough to make the colours look balanced as the amount of rice was dominating the amount of meat and veg. This is what I mean by the amount of food multiplying over the cooking process.

I then, at the last minute, tipped in the pack of cooked "cocktail" prawns. Since these were cooked, they just needed a quick stir though.

As you can tell, when it comes to this sort of thing, I don't really follow a recipe. Perhaps I should? I judge things on how it tastes and if it is balanced and cook it "til it is done", which can annoy some people!Following a recipe for this would mean venturing into the world of Paella rice, (even though I do use risotto rice occasionally) Paella pans, probably shellfish and maybe some crazy ingredients only to be found in Spain depending on who's book you are reading. And again, can't be bothered.

This met my cravings for something tasty and not tomatoey for tea and left plenty for 3 more lunches afterwards. (So maybe the amount of rice worked out well in the end). It was a little salty, but this wasn't really apparent while eating, only afterwards when I had an almighty thirst. Probably didn't help as I had gone back for seconds. Maybe next time we go shopping, we'll get the reduced salt chicken stock cubes, as we have with the veg stock as this could improve the saltiness. The flavours of the chorizo, prawns and veg all came though and I was actually pleased with how it tasted. Tim liked it for his lunch today too, so an overall success. Whether it is authentic or not doesn't really bother me. I do prefer this version of "Paella" compared to the type that you get in a well-known Tapas chain, so I think I will be reviving this recipe back into my portfolio. It will probably taste different next time since no recipe or strict quantities were followed, but hey-ho, that's how I cook.

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